DOE okays 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 very heartwarming that the Department of Education and Chancellor [Joel] Klein have opened up the bake sales to raise money for people in Haiti. Our hearts go out to them,” said Laurie Windsor, president of School District 20’s Community Education Council (CEC), covering Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Borough Park and part of Bensonhurst. “Not to take away from that disaster in any way, shape or form, but one of our PTA members said, ‘It’s okay to lift the ban for this but not our local schools?’”

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.”

“How long are they going to lift it for? Two months, three months, four months?” wondered Cecile Iacono, president of the Presidents’ Council for District 21, which consists of PTA presidents in Coney Island and Bensonhurst.

Since the restrictions were implemented last fall, P.S. 216 at 350 Avenue X has lost a significant amount of money.

“We lost $2,500 from not being able to sell snacks. That paid for an Orton phonics program that teaches students how to read. It is an amazing program,” Iacono said.

Brooklyn parents remain hopeful that the DOE will eventually ease restrictions on bake sales.

“Every school has suffered because every school has sold snacks,” Iacono said.

“We would like to have a permanent lifting of the bake sale ban. It’s a great way for schools to fund-raise. If it’s good for Haiti, it should be good for our children here,” said Christopher Spinelli, president of District 22’s CEC, which represents Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and parts of Midwood, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.