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Schools save programs through partnerships

June 19, 2009 3:57:58 PM PDT
Some city schools are partnering with private businesses so that some critical programs are spared. Israel Soto shares a problem with all of the city's school principals, who now face budget cuts.

"The concern is that the budget cuts will jeopardize not only programs, but human resources, also," P.S./M.S. 57 principal Israel Soto said.

Mr. Soto's P.S./M.S. 57 has gone from an "F" to an "A" on its school progress report, through hard work, technology resources and projects like "Garden of Dreams," a school horticultural project.

"I've learned things about, like how plants grow and how many different kinds of plants there are," Henry Perez said.

Obviously, in a weak economy, and at a time when individual schools are being asked to cut their budgets, anything not directly related to reading, writing and math is the first thing to be cut.

But the school has friends in high places.

"I keep reading in the press about failing schools and I walk into this beautiful place where kids were learning, teachers were engaged and they were winning, and I said, I've gotta be a part of this," explained Bob Silver, co-founder of parentgiving.com.

Silver's internet-based company counsels families on caring for elderly relatives. His financial support for P.S./M.S. 57 was a match made by the not-for-profit known as "Pencil". But its founder, Lisa Belzberg, says support does not always mean money.

"What it really takes, a lot of times, is somebody saying, 'I'm here to give you my advice.' Sometimes it translates, sometimes it doesn't. I'm here to give some private time to teachers who just need a little more encouragement. I'm here to take kids out of their environment so they can see the broader world out there," Belzberg said.

The Department of Education expects to cut more than 300-million dollars from its budget.

"Without the partnerships that have been established thus far, all of the wonderful things that we afford our kids with would not have been possible," Soto said.


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