Community Education Council 18 (CEC 18) held its first meeting of the school year on Monday, September 11th, at the District 18 office, 1106 East 95th Street, where School District 18 Superintendent Celeste Terry gave a report on the new school year, which just started on September 7th, plus news from over the summer.
CECs are Department of Education (DOE) based education policy advisory bodies. CEC 18 is made up of parents of District 18 students, which includes Canarsie and East Flatbush.
Starting on a positive note, Terry announced a $1.4 million grant that My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) is awarding the district. The grant is going toward early childhood and financial literacy programs and is the largest MBK grant the district has received so far. The money hasn’t arrived yet, but it will be split into $300,000 annually for the next five years.
More money has also been coming to District 18 from local politicians. Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse gave P.S. 276 $175,000 on September 1st, with plans to give funds to other schools in the district.
District 18 was able to fill leadership vacancies over the summer. There are four new principals at P.S. 66, P.S. 219, P.S. 244 and M.S. 961 and two new assistant principals at P.S. 208 and P.S. 219.
The August graduation ceremony for summer students was a success, according to Terry. Usually, the commencement is sparsely attended, with only three or four people showing up. This time, 75 people came to celebrate the graduates.
While there was a lot of good news going into the school year, there were some negatives discussed.
Despite all the grants and donations coming in, District 18 suffers from lower DOE funding due to having fewer students than other districts. The more enrolled students a district has, the more money that district receives. This often means that overcrowded districts get large budgets, while districts in transit deserts, like Canarsie, receive less funding.
As a result, the schools have been complaining about not being able to purchase and install new air conditioners. Many schools have few to no units, have broken units or have new units with no working plugs to connect them to.
Terry is looking for solutions to this problem. Donavan Swanson, an education and engagement policy analyst in the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office who attended the meeting, recommended the district request infrastructure overhauls from the office, as this would naturally include modernizing the buildings and getting cooling units. He also recommended the district seek state funding for the air conditioners.
Beyond that, state test scores for last year still haven’t come out, leaving schools and families in the dark.