Church Groups Push Albany to Allow Them Back Into School Buildings

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's preliminary budget announcement on Thursday was "as free of drama as any in recent memory," writes David W. Chen in Friday's New York Times.

That was certainly true for education. In a departure from previous years, the mayor did not use the budget to threaten thousands of teacher layoffs or champion a particular policy, like ending seniority-based teacher layoffs, which he called on the State Legislature to abolish last year (it did not). And his proposed cuts to libraries and day care programs did not come as a shock to advocates, as he had proposed similar ones last year.

In this next year, as the mayor seeks to define his reputation as having improved the city's schools, he is slightly increasing money for the city's Department of Education, while making cuts to other agencies. From SchoolBook:

With the city’s fixed costs going up every year, it was not immediately clear what impact the increase in financing would have in the classroom. In fact, as has occurred for the last five years, the overall budget can increase while principals, who now manage their own budgets, are given less money for staffing and other expenses.

WNYC A church group facing eviction from P.S. 150 in Sunnyside, Queens

Grace Fellowship Church has been holding worship services at P.S. 150 in Sunnyside, Queens, since 2006. The Presbyterian-affiliated church gets about 80 regulars and newcomers a week.

It is one of dozens of churches scheduled to be evicted soon from city schools by the city's Department of Education. You can hear WNYC's Fred Mogul report on Grace Fellowship if you click on the audio above.

The Department of Education gave the churches until Feb. 12 to vacate. Last week, the department provided a list of 53 churches with active permits to worship in schools, but it’s not clear how many are still meeting in auditoriums like the one at P.S. 150. Some contacted by WNYC have already found new homes.

John Eligon writes in Friday's New York Times that with a little more than a week before their eviction, church groups are pressuring state lawmakers in Albany to push through legislation allowing them to continue holding services in public schools. Last year, a federal appeals court upheld the Department of Education's position banning the groups from worshiping on public school property.

And also in the news on Friday, Gotham Schools reports that the principal of Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a middle and high school in Harlem, is leaving just before a city panel votes on whether to close the middle school.

The principal, Herma Hall, is the second from a school on the city's list of those proposed for closing to leave her job before a final decision is made next Thursday on the school's fate. Last week, the principal of Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers, stepped down.

GothamSchools’ Rise & Shine post has a more complete roundup of what’s in the news on Friday.

It's a quiet Friday, but on Saturday, Columbia University's neuroscience outreach groups and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives are hosting the New York Regional Brain Bee, a daylong neuroscience competition for high school students. That event takes place at Roone Arledge Auditorium in Lerner Hall from 1 to 5 p.m.