Parents, school faculty, and elected officials joined together on August 9 at the Brooklyn New School to rally against threatened funding cuts to four South Brooklyn School Based Health Centers (SBHC). The four, which included Park Slope’s M.S. 51; Carroll Gardens’ Brooklyn New School and the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies; Boerum Hill’s P.S. 38; and the Cobble Hill facility shared by the School for International Studies, Digital Arts and Cinema Technology High School, District 75’s Star Academy and Success Academy Cobble Hill all received a notice from SUNY Downstate Medical Center of an impending closure.
Though the crowd that had gathered outside was a modestly sized one, their passion was not lacking. Many attendees were accompanied by their children, clutching signs covered in motivating slogans, one of which summed up the crowd’s singular, focused goal, “Save Our Clinics”.
Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, who spoke first, stressed the importance of SBHCs in providing “very critical care,” to thousands of students across the city. These services range from routine immunizations to chronic illness treatment and mental health services. Simon noted that these clinics were the most cost-effective and affordable choice New York families have, and in her words, the “best bang for your health care buck.”
It turned out that just before the planned rally, funding was restored to these four school programs for one year. Assembly member Bobby Carroll called that simple common sense, considering the cuts were only $400,000 in a budget of $150 billion.
Carroll thanked “the parents, administrators and the New York State Nurses Association for being such tireless advocates for these school based health centers.”
Lenore Berner, Principal of M.S. 51 William Alexander also spoke. For M.S. 51, whose student body has no DoE nurse to turn to, Berner stressed the role these clinics play in, “literally saving lives every year.”
After the rally concluded and the attendees dispersed, the Star-Revue spoke to Nina Harris, one of the several parents present. Nina was no stranger to importance of these clinics, as her 7th grade son, who goes to school in Boerum Hill, makes ample use of them for simple and affordable vaccinations. The counselling SBHC provides is also used by her for her younger son.
Like many other parents, she had felt left in the dark in regards to the budget cuts. “It was mysterious to me who was responsible for the cuts.”
Nina’s words echoed the feelings of many other parents, which drove them to this rally in the first place, “If you have aspirations for a higher office… don’t throw us under the bus.”