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Sanders’ office spreads $2M in technology gifts to schools

Donovan Richards dons his Santa Claus suit to present a check for $2 million to southeast Queens schools. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

Southeast Queens schools received an early Christmas present last week when Donovan Richards, chief of staff to City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), donned his red Santa Claus suit and presented a $2 million check for technology upgrades to the district’s 25 schools.

For the past eight years Sanders Claus, the councilman’s holiday alter ego, has made the presentation but during the final year of his Council term the state senator-elect passed the reins along to Richards, who is running to replace his boss.

“The money’s going for technology, which a lot of our schools don’t have,” Richards said. “When we started doing this, you wouldn’t believe it. A lot of these schools didn’t even have computers. And some were completely wiped out by the hurricane and need to be made whole again.”

More than 100 excited schoolchildren packed the auditorium at Laurelton’s IS 270, at 233-15 Merrick Blvd., to share their holiday wishes with Kris Kringle.

“I want a flat-screen TV and a pool for our school,” second-grader Jordan declared, prompting uproarious applause from his classmates as well as from a few teachers.

Principal Chayvonne Harper said the $50,000 allocated to IS 270 would go toward buying new Smart Boards for classrooms — which go for about $4,000 a pop — and fixing some of the existing ones in need of repair.

Of course, not every Council allocation comes with an assembly, and Harper said the youngsters look forward to seeing Santa in their school every year.

“The kids are really excited,” she said. “They’re more than ecstatic.”

When asked by Richards Claus what she wanted for Christmas, the soft-spoken principal grew a wide smile and said she would like a relaxing vacation.

The $2 million was spread through schools in Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway.

Beverley Mitchell, principal at the Cynthia Jenkins School, said the funds would pay for Smart Boards, laptops and document cameras and PS 132 Principal Alicia Davis said her students would get an expansion for their school’s science and technology lab.

Leilani, a second-grader whose older brother lets her use his iPod, said she would like Santa to bring her one of the popular gadgets she could call her own for Christmas.

About 10 minutes later she waved a reporter down and added, “I forgot to tell you I also want an iPad, too.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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