BY JON CRONIN
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) announced the results of her pilot participatory budget program in which students of local schools could vote and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars for capital projects.
A total of 21 schools and more than 12,000 students took part in the voting process, Crowley said.
“More voted in this than in our local elections,” she said. “I am very proud of our school community.”
Glendale’s PS 113 came in first place with 93 percent participation and received an extra $50,000. Crowley said that the PTA, teacher and the parent coordinator came through and championed the cause. Second place went to Ridgewood’s PS 91 and Ridgewood’s PS 290 came in third with 78 percent.
Timothy Turner, the assistant principal at PS 113, said that the funding would go a long way for a non-title 1 school. He added that the technology the school plans to purchase with the money would help students to invest in their future.
“I wish we had a 93 percent turnout for everything,” Turner said.
He added that the gym floor in the school would also be replaced with the funding. Turner noted that the gym is one of the most heavily utilized rooms in the school, which holds events in it six to seven days per week.
“Our gym is a real community area,” he said. “It’s used every day from 7 a.m. to eight at night.”
Connie Schwartz, the parent coordinator for PS 113, thanked the families for their support, which brought the school’s total to $150,000 with the $50,000 prize.
Jennifer Bonowitz, PS 113’s PTA president, said that the participatory budgeting packet went out on March 24 and that the fifth grade class was the first to get in 100 percent. That class will receive a pizza party for the students’ efforts.
Karen O’Leary, a PS 113 teacher, praised the school’s “Geek Squad,” which stayed an hour after school two days a week to repair the older computers in the building.
Principal Gregory Filippi, of PS 91, said that his school would use the $130,000 to replace its smart boards. He noted that the old ones are expensive to maintain.
PS 290 Principal Jose Jimenez said that his school would use its funding to create a computer science lab for the students and, hopefully, prepare students for jobs that have yet to be created.
Crowley noted that each council district gets $5 million for capital expenditure, but she decided to put $2.2 million towards the schools since she felt that they have always been pulled into participatory budgeting sessions too late.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.