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P.S. 321's PTA Aims to Raise Nearly $1 Million This Year

PARK SLOPE — The PTA at P.S. 321 is aiming to take in nearly $1 million this school year — money that will help soften the impact of swelling enrollment at the high-performing school, school leaders said.

The group's proposed budget calls for revenues of $935,200, to be raised through contributions from families, fundraising events and fees for before and after-school activities. The funds will help pay for many of the programs — such as art, dance, theater enrichment, band and chess — that make the school highly sought-after, organizers said. The PTA's fundraising has helped maintain those programs even in the face of 15 percent budget cuts at the school, according to P.S. 321's website.

But the real impact of the money is felt in classrooms where PTA dollars help offset the school's growing population, said PTA leaders at a recent meeting where the group's budget was unveiled.

"Our biggest challenge is our size," Principal Liz Phillips said the meeting.

An estimated 1,407 students attended P.S. 321 last year, and this year the school will probably have about 1,470 students, though enrollment numbers haven't been finalized yet, Phillips said.

PTAs are prohibited from paying for core subject teachers, but they can pay for other types of school staff, Phillips explained at the meeting. This year's proposed PTA budget will cover some of the staffing costs for the school's computer enrichment, art enrichment, and music and dance programs.

"Even though our class size isn't where we'd like it to be, it's a lot lower than where it would be without that money," Phillips said at the meeting.

For example, a fifth grade class of 28 would be 33 students without PTA funding for extra staff, Phillips said.

A recent survey by the United Federation of Teachers found 6,220 overcrowded classrooms in city schools. Under the UFT's contract with the city, class size limits are 18 for pre-K, 25 for kindergarten, 32 for first through sixth grade, 30 to 33 for middle school and 34 for high school.