Aug. 3, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The Department of Education will no longer be funding a popular college preparatory program offered at a top Flushing high school–and Queens legislators are speaking out.
More than a dozen Queens lawmakers condemned the department’s decision to cut The Bridge Year Program that is offered to students at Townsend Harris High School, located at 149-11 Melbourne Ave. The program, which will end next year, is conducted in partnership with Queens College.
The program allows seniors at the high-ranking high school to take up to six credits per semester of accredited college-level courses with Queens College students on the shared campus. The program will end in July 2021.
Assembly Members Nily Rozic, Edward Braunstein, Stacey Pheffer-Amato, Daniel Rosenthal, David Weprin, Catalina Cruz, Brian Barnwell, Andrew Hevesi and Ron Kim, along with State Senators Toby Stavisky, John Liu and Leroy Comrie said the DOE’s decision to cut the program overlooks its importance and the positive impact it has had on students over the 30 years it has been around.
“We are disappointed to learn the news that the DOE has decided to eliminate funding for this vital partnership despite the overwhelming advocacy from students, teachers, administrators, and community-at-large to keep this program alive,” they said in a joint statement.
The state lawmakers also criticized the mayor and chancellor’s handling of student education during the pandemic.
“The Mayor and the Chancellor are clearly not up to the task of prioritizing the wellbeing of our students — whether that means determining how to safely reopen, provide quality at-home learning, or providing access to unique opportunities such as The Bridge Year Program,” they said.
The Bridge Year Program is essential to the school’s goal of preparing students for college and plays a significant role in one of the most diverse communities in Queens, the group of elected officials argued.
“While the DOE claims that Townsend Harris is not alone in facing these drastic cuts as other schools experience budget shortfalls, we believe this is further proof that the City is targeting these students in a harmful and long lasting way.”
Assembly Member Rozic, whose district includes the high school, penned a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in early March, urging him to fund the program for another five years through June 2026. It was signed by 15 additional Queens legislators.