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Budget, Education & City Services

Resolution in Support of Additional Funding for MS 297

WHEREAS, MS 297, is a one-year-old middle school that, in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year, will occupy its permanent home at 75 Morton Street, after temporarily occupying facilities at M.S. 260 Clinton School Writers Artists (10 E 15th St.) for its inaugural (2017-2018) school year; and

WHEREAS, MS 297 enrolled a total of 192 students in the 2017-2018 school year, all of whom were in the 6th Grade, and

WHEREAS, MS 297 is projected to have total enrollment of approximately 500 students in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year (serving 6th & 7th grades) and is projected to have approximately 800 students in the 2019-2020 school year (serving 6th, 7th, and 8th grades), and will likely have approximately 900 students in 2020-2021; and

WHEREAS, With the growth in student population, additional funding is required in numerous disciplines for MS 297 students, both in school as well as school-related services, to maintain current service levels; and

WHEREAS, Many current MS 297 middle school students enroll in after-school activities supported by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), through the School’s Out New York City program (SONYC), which offers programs for students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at public school sites from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year; and

WHEREAS, SONYC programs are structured like clubs offering young people a choice in how they spend their time, provide rigorous instruction in sports and arts, and require youth leadership through service; and

WHEREAS, SONYC programs have received strong reviews, help working families and provide the support that middle school students’ need; and

WHEREAS, In an April 2016 evaluation of SONYC programs, “ninety-eight percent of parents surveyed reported their sons and daughters like coming to the program, and nearly all of the families said they would recommend SONYC to other families”; and

WHEREAS, SONYC programs provide middle school students with the support of caring adults and offer engaging, fun activities designed to encourage participants to pursue their passions and help them through the challenging years of early adolescence, a period of extraordinary change and a demanding time for both students and their families; and

WHEREAS, After school programs targeted to middle school students help students develop new skills and interests, prepare for high school, encourage greater experimentation in academics, arts and athletics and provide students with safe environments and absorbing activities to occupy them after school, particularly important for working parents; and

WHEREAS, High quality afterschool programs bring a wide range of benefits for middle school students including improved academic performance, improved classroom behavior, reduced drug use, and positive health outcomes, particularly when programs encourage physical activity and good dietary habits, and reduces the achievement gap among diverse communities; and

WHEREAS, For the 2017-2018 school year, MS 297 received funding for 100 SONYC seats, a ratio of 52% seats to students; and

WHEREAS, The existing contract with DYCD allows for no increase in SONYC seat count; in the absence of an increased contract size, the same 100 seats that accommodated 192 students in 2017-2018 will have to accommodate approximately 500 students in 2018-2019; and

WHEREAS, Maintaining the approximately 50% ratio of SONYC seats to students at MS 297 will require approximately an additional 150 SONYC seats in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year; and

WHEREAS, In District 2, Manhattan Youth is the largest provider of SONYC programs, serving as the sole onsite provider at 16 District 2 middle schools; other District 2 providers include Educational Alliance, Immigrant Social Services and University Settlement; and

WHEREAS, Community Board 2, in which district MS 297 will be domiciled, ratified a resolution similar this one, supporting increased after-school services for MS 297; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges the Mayor and our City Council to allocate funding in the FY 2019 budget for an additional 150 SONYC seats at MS 297; and be it further

RESOLVED, CB5 urges the Mayor, the City Council and the Department of Youth and Community Development to plan for future funding of additional SONYC seats for MS 297 in FY 2020 and FY 2021, as enrollment is expected to expand to approximately 900 students; and be it further

RESOLVED, CB5 urges the Mayor and the City Council to support additional funding needs at MS 297 in support of its enrollment phase-in; and be it further

RESOLVED, CB5 urges the Mayor, the City Council and the Department of Education to recognize and fund the needs of new schools during their entire enrollment phase-in.

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