New Design High School Assesses Impact of Budget Cuts

Principals across New York City are having to make some tough choices. Last month the Department of Education announced $405 million in budget cuts, averaging 4.9 percent per school. But recently a group of principals told the New York Post the cuts were actually deeper, more like 10 percent.

We asked Scott Conti, principal of New Design High School on Essex Street, for his take on the situation. He said they have until the middle of this month to figure the budget out, but his initial impression is that New Design will have to cut about 5-percent. Conti says he expects a deficit of around $150,000. He told us, "All schools have to make some tough decisions right now and, thus, being as thoughtful as possible about where the cuts will take place.  The tough thing is that some of our expenditures (like some salaries) are going up so we are feeling the cut much more."

The principal of JHS 123 in the Bronx, Virginia Connelly, painted a much bleaker picture for the Post. Saying the cuts at her school amounted to a half million dollars, she pleaded, "I'm used to doing things with one hand tied behind my back. But don't tie both my hands." The Department of Education has promised no teachers will be fired due to the cutbacks but after school programs are likely to be targeted.

Conti said he understands Connelly's point of view, but he's upbeat: "We are focusing more on the core things we can do better and using the cuts to have conversations about what we really value.  We are working harder at fundraising and continuing to look for ways to make the school feel richer and fuller for staff and students.  On the opening day of school next September I expect the school to be a better place."

New Design High School is one of five schools that replaced the low-performing Seward Park High School in 2005. They emphasize a rigorous college prep education with design woven through the curriculum.

Check out our recent video report from the roof of the New Design High School, profiling the "Rooftop Legends."

TLD Visits Rooftop Legends at New Design High School

We recently visited a fantastic show on the roof of New Design High School.  The school's third annual Rooftop Legends show included graffiti artists from around the world and resulted in an array of fabulous art on the walls all around the roof top. The school integrates different forms of design into a high school curriculum and uses graffiti art as one way to engage students.  We were able to catch some of the artists in action and spoke with students Channel Warner and Sierra Williams about the show.

The Rooftop Legends show is curated by NDHS Dean, Jesse Pais (a former graffiti artist), and is more important than ever as the charter school tries to raise funds for student programs after facing budget cuts three years in a row. Some of the artists featured include: Vins, Dezo, Tatu, Klass, Page, Keo, Cycle, Bounce, El Coro, and Doc TC5.  Music from DJ enuff and "Rockin' It" by The Fearless Four (we had to go old school) . For more about New Design High and to help their cause, visit their website.

15 Seconds – New Design High School’s Scott Conti and Jesse Pais on the L.E.S.

We caught up with Principal Scott Conti and Dean Jesse Pais at New Design High School's Rooftop Legends show over the weekend.  They told us why they love the Lower East Side.  We'll be posting a piece about their school and the Rooftop Legends show soon.

Posted by Traven Rice