NEW YORK — “My kids’ school has no gym and no playground,” said a mother who sends two of her children to P.S. 51 in the Bronx. “Last year we had to add a new class, which meant we had to move the library to make space for a classroom. Next year we have to add another class.”

The situation is not uncommon. This mother describes her school as one of the “luckier ones.” In fact, the city’s schools are in such a state of disrepair that the state Supreme Court, in a lawsuit brought by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, ordered Albany to provide an additional $5.6 billion in operating expenses annually as well as another $9.2 billion for facilities. Judge Leland Degrasse gave Albany 90 days to do it, starting in March 2005.

The situation has not improved since then. A recent report showed that 2005 graduation rates statewide were 59.4 percent for boys and 69.2 percent for girls, lower than the previous year. As bad as those statistics are, New York City fared even worse: only 37.3 percent of boys graduated in four years, and 49.8 percent of girls.

Despite this and the court order, Republican Gov. George Pataki’s recently proposed budget included only $100 million in additional funding for the city, far less than what school advocates say is needed.

“It is not even enough for schools to maintain their current services,” said CFE Executive Director Geri Palast, “let alone address the dire resource deficiencies identified in the CFE case.”

The state has a huge surplus, but the governor had other plans for the money, including a $1.1 billion tax cut for big business.

Parents, teachers, elected leaders and students are planning a major fightback, including a day of lobbying on March 14.

The City Council passed a resolution Feb. 13 condemning the governor for shortchanging the city’s students.

New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson, who initiated the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, demanded at a recent press conference that Pataki reverse course on the tax cuts and use the surplus to “put a down payment” on education funding.

In addition, the Schools for New York’s Future Act, Bill A-100, has been reintroduced into the state Legislature. If passed, it would guarantee decent funding for the city’s schools as well as all schools in the state,

NYC’s Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously has been reluctant to challenge Pataki, has been pushed by growing public sentiment into lobbying for more education funding.

The city will host a lobbying day on March 28, but the Chancellor’s Parents Advisory Council, created by Bloomberg’s own school reforms, voted to boycott the action. Instead, they will join with the teachers’ union and the Alliance for Quality Education for the March 14 lobby day.

Bloomberg’s sincerity is questioned by some who recall that in his 2005 re-election campaign against Democrat Fernando Ferrer he falsely claimed that dropout rates were getting better.

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