Pre-K jitters?

By George Hunka

UPDATE: For more on the challenges that universal Pre-K will present to downtown schools, see Irene Plagianos’ story “Two Downtown Schools Cut Pre-K Programs Because of Overcrowding” in today’s DNAinfo.

The new emphasis from Mayor Bill de Blasio on universal Pre-K for New York City is laudable, but the effort will exacerbate an already difficult overcrowding situation in downtown schools like PS 150 and its neighbor PS 234. In a January 30, 2014, story in the Downtown Express, an anonymous reporter says that sources have been suggesting that PS 150 add an additional Pre-K class — for the first time upsetting the one-grade, one-class model of the school. According to the story:

This week, de Blasio said the city would be ready to expand to 53,000 full-day pre-K spots this September if Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Albany cohorts come up with a reliable revenue stream to pay for it …

Lower Manhattan won’t be an easy place to find more space, but one place probably already on the mayor’s list is Tribeca’s PS 150, which this year had room to add a kindergarten class to help PS 234’s overcrowding, although 234 ended up having enough room.

Paul Hovitz, Board 1’s Youth Committee co-chairperson and one of the Downtown leaders in the fight for more schools, agreed with us that P.S. 150 is a good possibility and he suggested a few others.

Sources close to PS 150 report that Paul Hovitz says that he was misquoted in the story, adding that Community Board 1’s Youth & Education is not advocating that PS150 take another Pre-K class; he only meant to report that just last year PS150 almost took another K class.

The full Downtown Express story can be found here.


Blue Ribbon Nominee!

By George Hunka

004_symbol_banners_blue-ribbon-free-vectorPS 150 Principal Jenny Bonnet has informed the school that PS 150 is one of nineteen nominees in New York state and the only nominee from Manhattan for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, administered by the US Department of Education. The award is based on achievement for the last two years. Congratulations to all for the nomination and best of luck to Jenny in making the application for the award!

Founded in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ academic achievement. A National Blue Ribbon Schools flag overhead has become a mark of excellence in education recognized by everyone from parents to policy-makers in thousands of communities. More information about the program can be found here.

Parents like you

By George Hunka

Last night Goldie, our kindergartener, told us that PS 150 was “the best” — and she’s a hard one to satisfy. One of the reasons it’s the best is the support that parents provide to the school through the Direct Appeal.

So far for the 2013-2014 school year, we have received donations from approximately 14% of our community, raising $14,000. We are grateful to the families who have donated! But we have a long way to go to get to our goals of $50,000 AND full participation in supporting the important programs at our school.

Given the size of our school, every dollar counts. Your donations support:

  • Assistant teachers in every classroom (our first priority)
  • Arts residencies including Bill Gordh Storytelling, Ballroom Dance, and the Arts Festival
  • Curriculum like Singapore Math and our Content Studies
  • Technology enhancements for our school’s iPads, laptops and smartboards, copy machines
  • Family events like the fall disco

The PTA supplements the school’s budget by an average of $1,500 per student, and these funds are mainly raised from a combination of Taste of Tribeca, the Auction, and the Direct Appeal. A suggested donation of $600 per child for the Direct Appeal 2013-2014 campaign would enable us to provide everything outlined above. Families have provided generous donations in a range of payments from $50 – $5,000 in past years.

We accept donations by check or credit card. You can donate online at and follow the links to PayPal. All donations are tax deductible and you may be eligible for corporate matching programs. If you have questions, please email or call 917.402.2321.

And thanks, from Goldie and all the other PS 150 students, for your generosity.

Welcome, Hugo!

By George Hunka

The PS 150 family grows! Here’s a hearty welcome to Hugo, who was born to Bettina Teodoro, the co-editor of this site, on January 7. Congratulations to baby, mom, and dad — and is it too early to register for pre-K?

A new year, a new schools chancellor

carmen_farinaBy George Hunka

Happy 2014 to all PS150 students, teachers, administrators, parents, and friends! And as the first school day of the new year started this morning, the talk on the steps was all about Carmen Fariña, the new New York City Schools Chancellor. The official press release announcing the appointment reads:

Fariña has 40 years of experience in New York City public schools. She began her career as a teacher at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, later rising to become a principal at Manhattan’s P.S. 6 and the superintendent of Brooklyn’s District 15. Fariña was appointed Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning in 2004, and later went on to become a vocal advocate outside of government for comprehensive early education and parental involvement in school policy.

I heard parents, administrators, and teachers alike express excitement with her appointment, and everyone offered their best wishes to her in navigating the always stormy seas of New York City public education. More about the new chancellor can be found in this New York Times story.