It’s the last day of school for public school students in the city and students were celebrating.
This school year, they were welcomed back into the classroom after COVID-19 related shutdowns led to remote or hybrid instruction.
“We’re happy to be back in classroom,” Irene Calderon, who graduated from 5th grade, said. “Yeah, I got to write on paper and use physical stuff.”
That often meant helping students who fell behind academically during that time or who suffered emotionally from the adjustments — all while teaching this year’s lessons.
“It was a little rough because many kids hadn’t been in the building last year,” Ariala Trenes, mother of a rising 4th grade student, said. “The school was at half capacity and this year it was at full capacity, so it was a rough start.”
While these students may look forward to a well-deserved summer break, some parents and teachers are looking ahead to the fall, when $215 million in funding cuts due to falling enrollment, will kick in as part of Mayor Eric Adams’ first budget.
As a result of this, P.S.9 in Brooklyn will operate with more than a million dollars less this fall, is losing its guidance counselor because of the controversial cuts.
Adanna Atwell’s, whose son attended and graduated from this school, says she worries about the younger students who may need extra attention, like her son.
“Helping him navigate transitioning back into the school community, supporting him in instances that he had experience of bullying in the school community,” she said.
The city says teachers and staff affected by the cuts, like P.S.9’s guidance counselor, will not be fired but hired by schools that can afford them.
Adams insists the loss of funding is not a budget cut, but adjustments made in proportion to lower enrollment numbers.
The school’s chancellor David Banks says he understands losing valuable staff members is difficult for schools, but says the cuts are necessary.
“We’re heading for very, very serious financial challenges for our system if we don’t reverse the trend," Banks said. "Now I recognize that we’re in a bit of a catch 22 because people would say well if you reduce the budget, it makes people lose programs and certain teachers, it makes it harder to attract people to come back.”
For students at P.S.22 in Brooklyn, many say they are happy to have wrapped up the school year and are looking forward to some fun this summer.
“Probably going to stay inside and chill with the ax on and play games,” Isiah Roach, who will attend the 6th grade next school year, said.
The first day of school for public school students is Sept. 8.