City principals will have to submit plans in October explaining how they’ll meet the Mayor Bloomberg’s new service requirement for schools, but it shouldn’t be an onerous task for most of them.
Most schools, particularly at the high school level, already engage in some service, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Kerri Lyon. At Manhattan Bridges High School in Midtown, for example, students have always been required to log 40 hours of service before they graduate, Principal Mirza Sanchez Medina told me yesterday. Other schools announced service initiatives this week that were planned before Bloomberg’s announcement: Students from the Academy of Urban Planning and the Bushwick School for Social Justice planted 16 trees in between their campuses in honor of Earth Day, and kids at Harlem’s PS 57 pitched ideas for community-improvement grants to Scholastic’s Be Big Fund.
For the many schools that already engage in service, the mayor’s initiative should expand the number of volunteer options available to students, Lyon said. And schools that have never participated in service before can start slowly, such as by joining Penny Harvest, the popular program where kids donate pennies to charities of their choice, she said.
The DOE will be working with all schools to “help them figure out what works best for them,” Lyon said. AmeriCorps volunteers, provided through the nonprofit organization Children for Children, will also help to incorporate and expand volunteerism in schools.
Principals union president Ernest Logan said the new requirement to incorporate volunteerism is not likely to be burdensome for principals. “We have every faith that, while our principals are challenged by an extraordinary number of demands, they will embrace the possibility of enhancing the community service programs they have already established over the years,” he said in a statement.