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City moves to push P.S. 150 out of Tribeca

P.S. 150 students working on a museum project in January. File photo by Wendy Chapman
P.S. 150 students working on a museum project in January. File photo by Wendy Chapman

By JOSH ROGERS  | [UPDATED at 3:09 p.m. APRIL 24, 2013] P.S. 150 parents just got word that the small Tribeca school may be moved to Chelsea in 2014 to help deal with the persistent overcrowding crunch below Canal St.

P.S. 150 is an unzoned elementary school open to all District 2 students, but it gives priority to Lower Manhattan children, so many if not  most are living south of Canal.

The students would move to the new school being built at 17th St. and 6th Ave. on the site of the former Foundling Hospital.

“By moving the school to a big building you’re changing the foundation of what the school is all about,” said Jennifer Weisbord, a Tribeca mother. “We could’ve gone to P.S. 234, we could’ve gone to P.S. 11.”

P.S. 234, the Tribeca school always in high demand, this year has a wait list of 50.  Weisbord said she considered  P.S, 11 in Chelsea because her daughter was accepted to the gifted and talented program,  She said the “small-knit community school” feeling close to her home is what makes the school so attractive.

She and other parents got word of the move in an email (pasted at the bottom of this article), Wednesday, from Principal  Jenny Bonnet who wrote the move was “due to overcrowding issues in our downtown schools, questionable economic viability of a small school, concerns about professional development and lack of opportunity for collaboration for our teachers and expanded opportunities for our students….

“The Department of Education realizes that this will be an unexpected inconvenience and shock for many of you.”

The school,  which has seven classrooms from pre-K – 5, could possibly serve as a pre-K center, which would open up space in P.S. 89, 276, Spruce Street School and Peck Slip School. It could also “incubate” a new school if space were found elsewhere Downtown.  It is near Greenwich and Jay Sts. and is part of the Independence Plaza North housing complex.

Lenny Crooks, a parent member of the School Leadership Team, said District 2 Superintendent Mariano Guzman gave a very smooth presentation about the great changes in store, before making the shocking announcement that the school “would be moving lock, stock and barrel to the Flatiron District… Moving a school out of Tribeca is the opposite of solving the school overcrowding problem in Tribeca.”

Crooks, whose son is in the first grade, said after being pressed, school officials said the 150 space would likely be used for pre-K programs.

He and other parents asked if families could get special consideration if they applied to transfer to a nearby school out of their zone such as P.S. 89. His sense was such applications “would not be considered positively.”

Crooks said he loves the school’s small and active parent community. If his son were kicked out of Lower Manhattan, he would miss the after school walksover to Pier 25 and the Battery Park City ballfields.

Parent emails have been flying since they got word. They plan to paint protest signs for the P.S. 150 student performance at Saturday’s Tribeca Film Festival family fair.

Weisbord said parents who just accepted offers to P.S. 150’s kindergarten class are particularly upset to hear they will be moved after a year. According to emails she received about parents who tried Thursday to enroll in other schools, officials at Spruce did not know about the proposed change. P.S. 234 staff had heard and took down names,

Erin Hughes, a Dept of Education spokesperson, emailed a new statement Thursday ternoon:

“We recognize the significance of the changes that would come as a result of this proposal, but we see the re-siting of P.S. 150 as a way to build on the school’s strengths in a fantastic new space. We’re committed to developing a plan to ensure that P.S. 150’s current space continues to be used for the Lower Manhattan community.”

Earlier in the day, Hughes sent us this statement:
“This proposal is about PS 150 and developing a long-term plan for the school to ensure that it continues to thrive. While we don’t yet have a proposal for the use of the PS 150’s current space in 2014, we are committed to ensuring that this proposal does not reduce kindergarten capacity downtown.

This proposal has to go through the A-190 process: An Educational Impact Statement will be posted next week, a public hearing will be held in early June, and the Panel for Educational Policy will vote on June 19.”

BELOW IS THE LETTER EMAILED TO P.S. 15 PARENTS APRIL 24, 2013:

Dear P.S. 150 Families,

Today, an SLT meeting was called by District 2’s Superintendent, Mariano Guzman, to discuss the future of P.S. 150.  Due to overcrowding issues in our downtown schools,questionable economic viability of a small school, concerns about professional development and lack of opportunity for collaboration for our teachers and expanded opportunities for our students, there has been a proposal to move P.S. 150 to a new state of the art school building that is being constructed in the NY Foundling Hospital on 17th Street and 6th Avenue, for the 2014 – 2015 school year.

The Department of Education realizes that this will be an unexpected inconvenience and shock for many of you.  They will do everything they can to make this transition as smooth as possible (yellow school buses, for example).  I hope you will see this as an extraordinary opportunity for your children.  In 2014, we will open as a PK – 5th grade school, but the only grades that will be fully populated will be Pre K and K.  So, your children will not lose that sense of intimacy, but will reap the benefits of all this new building has to offer.

I know you will have questions and concerns, as I still do as well. We will have a parent meeting next week, date TBD.  I will let you know as soon as it is scheduled. I am hoping that as a community we can band together, support one another and take P.S. 150 to a new, exciting level and make next year a banner one.

Tomorrow I will be sending you a powerpoint that shows renderings of the new school.  I think you will agree that they are remarkable.

Yours,

Jenny

 

Jenny Bonnet

Principal

P.S. 150, Tribeca Learning Center

334 Greenwich Street

 

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