Organized by the students, the rally placed a direct call on the Department of Education to restore the nearly $400,000 in cuts to the school’s Advanced Placement (AP) courses, sports and supportive services.
Lawrence Roodenburg, a senior at the school, helped organize the rally after first hearing about the cuts in the upcoming budget a few weeks ago.
“We said this is enough and we really need to do something about this now,” Roodenburg said.
Roodenburg and his team of organizers were reportedly approached by DOE representatives prior to the rally and asked to cancel.
“It’s kind of ridiculous that they’re now pulling AP teachers, who usually teach two periods, to now one period,” he said. “They’re cutting 120 hours of class time and students can’t be expected to do well on their AP tests if they’re cutting half their class time.
Roodenburg held a sit-in at the principal’s office when they first heard about the budget cuts. He added that they will continue to organize rallies until the cuts are restored.
Councilman Mark Weprin called on the DOE to restore the proposed cuts, and said the cuts were made because of an enrollment error on the part of the department.
“DOE made an error, and now thousands of students are left in the lurch in the middle of the school year,” said he said. “By cutting funds to the school, DOE is unfairly punishing the students for its own mistakes.”
A representative of the DOE refuted the claims of budget cuts at Cardozo High School.
"There were no budget cuts to schools in FY14,” said the DOE representative. “School budgets fluctuate annually based on the number of registered students. There was also no error in enrollment.”
While they claim that no AP programming will be lost at the school, the spokesperson added that they are, “working closely with Principal Martori to make sure that the school’s programming is aligned with their budget.”
According to the DOE, the school is 15 students below current enrollment projections and has until October 31 to get its budget set. The spokesperson added that principals are responsible to align their resources and manage the budget.
“Cardozo will be able to maintain its AP courses,” assured the DOE representative.
As students filed into the yard at Cardozo High School last week, elected officials and school representatives gathered on the sidewalk.
Assemblyman Edward Braunstein said he was hopeful that any cuts to the program would be restored in time to save the AP classes.
“These students don’t understand the funding formulas, they don’t understand the bureaucratic back-and-forth, they just know that one day they came to school and their AP programs were cut,” Braunstein said. “I think they’re right to demand they continue the programs.”
Braunstein said Cardozo students are receiving less funding per student than other schools in the area.
“I think it’s a realistic demand,” he said. “The ball is in the DOE’s court. They have sole discretion on whether or not they’re going to go through with clawing this money back.”
Dana Horowitz, a junior and AP student, enrolled in the high school for their renowned college preparatory courses.
“We’re hoping to see our AP classes brought back because if they’re not, then our chances of getting into colleges are greatly jeopardized,” Horowitz said. “It jeopardizes the future, of not only us, but all of New York City.”
She explained that many of her AP classes like biology, social studies and calculus have already seen visible cuts this school year.
“Many classes, like AP Bio, that are two periods, have been cut down to one period so you have half the learning time,” she said. “There’s not enough time in the curriculum so your chances of doing well on the test are greatly reduced.”
Cardozo senior Lance Brown isn’t an AP student, however he said that he relies on the program for tutoring throughout the year.
“They help me, they tutor me with my subjects and my struggles,” Brown said. “I want to help them save their classes. When you shut them down, you’re shutting down a whole bunch of other programs too.”