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Parents at P.S. 256 say their school is cash-strapped, not failing

An after-school rally at Brooklyn’s P.S. 256 today took aim at the idea that the school is failing, even though it got an F on its most recent progress report.

The Department of Education included P.S. 256, a Bedford-Stuyvesant school, on a list of 20 low-performing schools that are being considered for closure. But parents and staff say the school is doing its best with limited resources.

Budget cuts have cost P.S. 256 its art and reading teachers and shrunk its tutoring program, according to Jimmy Dinkins, vice president of the school’s parent-teacher association.

“How are you going to put a school on a sinking ship and then expect us to pass?” Dinkins asked before the rally today.

DOE figures show $427,000 in budget cuts since 2008 for the 400-student school, where fewer than 4 in 10 students pass state reading and math tests.

Dinkins said he and other parents suspect that the DOE is trying to figure out how to free up space for the Community Partnership Charter School, whose middle school grades moved to the P.S. 256 building last year, to expand.

Today’s protest followed an “early engagement” meeting with DOE officials last week. The department is holding a series of meetings for each of the low-performing schools before announcing which it will try to close. At an “early engagement” meeting at Cypress Hills’ I.S. 171 last week, community members argued that new leadership was turning the school around.

Dinkins said he believes so much in P.S. 256 that he kept his daughters, who are in kindergarten and second grade, enrolled even after the family moved to another neighborhood.

“If I moved to Queens I would still come here,” he said.