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New Design High School Assesses Impact of Budget Cuts

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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."

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