“When we embarked on participatory budgeting for the second year in a row, I realized that the school community was getting pulled into it far too late,” Crowley said. “Some schools found out about it and so they had an edge, while the others were too late.”
In addition to allocating $1 million from her $5 million discretionary budget for district projects, she is also giving the school community a say in spending $2.2 million in 21 different schools.
And the results were stellar. In total, 12,681 votes were cast from kindergarten through 12th grade. The three schools with the most participation all received additional funding on top of the $100,000 they were already allocated.
“That’s really more people than come out to our local elections,” Crowley said.
PS/IS 113 in Glendale was the top school in terms of participation, with 93 percent of students voting, and received an extra $50,000
Assistant principal Timothy Turner explained that since the school does not receive Title I funding from the federal government, the money, which will be used for tech upgrades and renovating the gym means a lot to the students.
“It does allow us to provide additional technology, so that they’re prepared for their future endeavors,” said Turner. “And our gym floor is a real community area, it’s used every day from seven in the morning to eight at night.”
The school’s Geek Squad is particularly excited about the new computers.
“It will help us in the classroom with the computers, a lot of them are slow,” said eighth-grader Joseph Liotta.
PS 91 in Ridgewood received an extra $30,000. Principal Gregory Filippi said the money will help replace their old Smart boards with Promethean boards.
“They don’t require the maintenance and they run for about 10 to 15 years,” Filippi said. “It’s something that’s really going to help the kids.”
In third place as far as participation was PS 290 in Ridgewood. The school received an extra $20,000 and will spend the money on technology upgrades.
“We will be getting a computer science and coding lab,” Principal Jose Jimenez said. “Parents feel very strongly that we’re preparing for jobs that haven’t been invented, careers that are up and coming. This will be an opportunity for them to really learn the skills.”