Funding the Future


Richards Allocates More Than $21M for Local Schools


Several Rockaway and other southeast Queens schools are getting a big pick-me-up due to funding allocated by Councilman Donovan Richards. On Tuesday, October 15, Richards paid a visit to the Beach Channel Educational Campus to announce more than $21.5 million in funding for more than 29 schools in District 31.

In front of an audience that included principals and other representatives from area schools that received funding, students and other officials, Councilman Richards proudly discussed an accomplishment that will positively impact all of them. Richards has been able to allocate $21.505 million in capital funding grants for area schools, made possible by an additional $10 million from the Downtown Far Rockaway rezoning negotiations.

“This is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. When you can come back and invest in the future, and when I say the future, that is our young people who are here. You look at historically, how a lot of our schools have been underfunded, how the resources have not reached every part of the city, but in particular, in parts of Queens and parts of the Rockaways,” Richards said. “Our zip codes should not determine the quality of education, should not determine whether our schools have computers or not, whether you have a better facility or not. Everybody deserves to have a good, quality education and quality infrastructure in their schools and quality technologies. We made a commitment, that whatever we see is not right, we’re going to try to fix it.”

Many local schools received funding averaging at about $250K, mainly for technology upgrades. However, other schools and campuses, many with innovative ideas for how to use the funding, received much more. Among schools receiving grants were Village Academy in Far Rockaway, which received $2.9 million for a greenhouse and technology upgrades; $2.65 million for a woodshop, a robotics program and complete library upgrades at the Far Rockaway Educational Campus; $1.5 million to P.S. 104 for technology and park upgrades; and $2.5 million for the Beach Channel Educational Campus for a new weight room, air conditioning for the cafeterias and technology upgrades.

Principal Denise Harper-Richardson  of Channel View, one of the schools within the Beach Channel campus, showed her appreciation toward the councilman for the funding. “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to your tireless working on behalf of our campus and appropriating these funds. This school was built in the ‘70s and it requires a lot of work and maintenance. Both cafeterias were unairconditioned, and with these funds, we will be able to ensure that both cafeterias will have A/C. In addition, there’s also other funding that will be appropriated for the weight room and various technology. It is very much needed. Our students will be able to have state-of-the-art facilities and compete with other schools that have different levels of facilities.  It’s often said that in Rockaway, we’re often forgotten, but I want to say because of Councilman Richards, we haven’t been forgotten.”

A senior student and football player from the Beach Channel campus spoke about how the upgrades will benefit future classes and teams. “We often talk about how we want to leave the program better than it was when we came in. When we came here, we didn’t really have anything, the weight room wasn’t at its best. But now kids will be able to work out and it makes me feel better knowing that when I leave, this is going to help better prepare everyone,” the student said.

Principal William Johnson, of the Academy of Medical Technology on the Far Rockaway campus said, “‘Far’ is in our name, but Councilman, we’re never too far away for you and we appreciate that you always find your way to us. Over time, we’ve been basically reconstructing our building, which was built in 1929. With the councilman’s help, we’ve been able to rebuild parts of the building basically brick by brick.”

Upon sharing the good news of the funding, Richards told the crowd that he’s going to continue to fight for more and urged the school representatives to continue to collaborate and determine which projects they may want funded going forward. “We’re not done yet. We’re just getting started. I have a feeling we will come back for more announcements pretty soon,” Richards said.