An Open Letter to the Tribeca Trib

Dear Tribeca Trib,

The proposed move of PS150 to Chelsea featured in several Tribeca Trib stories last spring. Thanks so much for the coverage. This story happily left off with the DOE reversing course allowing PS 150 to remain at the “top of the stairs” at 334 Greenwich Street. There was never a happier first day of school.

Working closely with Community Board 1, District 2’s Community Education Council, and elected officials made this possible — what a team!  We also wish to gratefully acknowledge the DOE’s willingness to listen to our community’s concerns and rethink their proposal.

Superintendent Mariano Guzman attended our November PTA meeting and assured us that there are no plans to move PS150.  Further, if a new school is built downtown that PS 150 parents working with the DOE and community leaders should work with all to have the “right of first refusal” to incubate the new school — music to our ears.

PS150 is a small, family-like community that stresses the arts and music.  It is also the only “choice” elementary school downtown.  Had the proposed move gone ahead, public school choice for downtown parents would have vanished.  PS150 offers a warm alternative to the big school model.  Choice works as our strong test scores and A on our recent School Progress Report underscore.

PS 150 has always been the little school that does big things.  Now, more know about our little gem.

With thanks this Thanksgiving for our community,
Wendy Chapman
PS 150, PTA Co-President


DOE is Backing Away from Promises on New Downtown Schools, Say Advocates

By George Hunka

UPDATE (November 24): The Tribeca Trib Online provided further details about last week’s DOE meeting in this November 21 post. In the article, reporter Carl Glassman quotes Buxton Midyette, a PS 150 parent and School Leadership Team member who attended the meeting: “It is disappointing and shocking to get the news tonight. Of the 912 seats we expected, there is still going to be a shortfall of 456 seats.”

In today’s issue of The Broadsheet Daily, reporter Matthew Fenton writes that the DOE may be modifying a pledge that it made in June for 1,000 new school seats in lower Manhattan. Fenton says:

Lower Manhattan leaders are concerned that the Department of Education (DOE) may be modifying the terms of a pledge that it made in June, and affirmed as recently as several weeks ago, to build 1,000 new school seats in Lower Manhattan. At a Wednesday meeting of the Community Education Council for District 2 (the public school zone that includes Lower Manhattan), DOE officials announced that half of these seats would be built above Canal Street, and were unable to say where or when the remaining 400-plus seats would be sited within Lower Manhattan.

“Our jaws dropped,” says Paul Hovitz, the co-chair of the Youth and Education Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), which has been a forum for arguing in favor of building additional school capacity in Lower Manhattan for the past decade. “At several meetings over the last five months, they said they were acknowledging that Lower Manhattan needs 1,000 seats, and that those seats would be built down here. Then, on Wednesday, they said they planned to build fewer than 500 here, with the rest going further uptown.” …

A DOE source, who asked not to be named, counters that, “we have not scaled back our commitment to open two new elementary schools, and close to 1,000 seats, in Lower Manhattan in any way. Nothing about that commitment has changed. The proposed capital plan calls for the construction of two elementary schools in District 2 for a total of 912 new seats. One of the two new elementary schools would be located just north of Canal Street, but we expect both of these new schools will help to alleviate overcrowding in Lower Manhattan.”

Read the entire story here, and feel free to leave any reflections or thoughts in the comments section to this post.

Good and Bad News About Applying to Middle School

By Wendy Chapman

This fall, PS 150 fifth-graders are touring various middle schools and thinking about which school to rank first on their list of five. District 2’s many high performing schools are scattered all over the city from the Upper East Side to Battery Park. Most middle schools will be looking at fourth-grade report cards, attendance records, and test scores, including in some cases an additional school-specific test. Families will have their own screening criteria: ease of commute, start time, school size, academic focus, school activities/sports, etc. One size does not fit all in New York City and that is probably a good thing.

As a parent of two kids in two different middle schools, I feel lucky that each is in the “right” school. A big part of being successful in middle school is having your child feel a part of his/her school community. By middle school, all the groundwork you have done as a parent and school starts bearing fruit as your child goes out into the world making his/her own friends, traveling to school without you, and organizing his/her time to complete homework, projects, etc. Parents want kids to make positive choices and be successful and happy. The good news is that the majority of PS 150 fifth-graders have gotten their top middle school picks and report being pleased with their schools. We have every reason to believe this will continue.

But something has changed in the last year which brings us to the bad news — overcrowding. When my oldest applied to middle school three years ago, PS 234 had four fifth-grade classrooms. This year, PS 234 has seven fifth-grade classrooms. This means that many more PS 234 children will not get their first choice as the number of middle school seats has not expanded with demand. I shouldn’t pick on PS 234. Other downtown schools are in the same boat.
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PS 150’s Report Card: A!

By George Hunka

The New York City DOE has just issued its 2012-13 progress report — and PS 150 received A’s in Student Progress and Student Performance, leading to an A for its Overall Progress Report Grade! Congratulations to the teachers, administrators, and parents — and of course to our kids, who made it possible.

You can read a summary overview here, and the complete progress report here.