Bake sales for Haiti

Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) may sell cupcakes to raise money for Haiti — but are restricted in selling desserts to benefit Brooklyn schools.

“It’s terrific that they’ve rescinded the order. Schools want to be involved in this and children need to see that there are ways to take action and help others,” said Park Slope mom Martha Foote. “But at the same time, New York City is facing budget cuts, especially with [Governor David] Paterson coming out with a proposed five percent cut for next year. Schools need to be able to have bake sales to help their own children.”

She’s referring to the city’s decision to restrict bake sales, which have long raised money to support special programs. Parents’ associations are now allowed to hold bake sales once a month after lunch time and sell desserts after 6 p.m. on weekdays. The DOE believes the new policy will combat childhood obesity.

The DOE sent a memo to schools reading, “The chancellor is temporarily waiving the restrictions on bake sales in Chancellor’s Regulation A-812 for the purposes of Haiti disaster relief efforts. However, all federal and state laws must be followed. For example, federal law prohibits the sale of candy and soda to students before the end of the last lunch period.”

As budgets are cut, some schools are holding bake sales in spite of DOE rules.

“We weighed the risk and the risk is that we have to make up for a $150,000 budget cut,” said Elizabeth Ernish, PTA co-president of the Brooklyn New School and Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in Carroll Gardens. “We’re willing to risk it if it means we’re able to keep our art programs, music programs and basic supplies, like paper towels.”

Schools in District 14, which includes Williamsburg and Greenpoint, have been suffering as a result of budget cuts, said Mario Aguila, president of the district’s Community Education Council (CEC).

“A lot of principals have come to me and said that they are going to have to cut,” Aguila said. “Middle schools in my district have already cut after-school programs. It doesn’t look good.”

Diane Miller said her children’s school, P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights, is hosting successful fund-raisers free of baked goods.

“Our Read-a-Thon is one of our most popular fund-raisers, it raised $40,000 for us this year. We used it to replace the candy sales,” she said.

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