P.S. 150 Parents Convince DOE to Keep Their School in Tribeca

Several P.S. 150 parents had made a final plea to the Department of Education to rethink its proposal to re-site the school to Chelsea. File photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Sep. 03, 2013

Armed with a PowerPoint presentation, letters of support and pages of graphs and statistics, P.S. 150 parent leaders managed to convince Department of Education officials to scrap a plan to re-site their school to Chel­sea.

Meeting with the DOE officials late last month in a last-ditch effort to change their mind, leaders of the parent opposition and representatives of local elected officials pled their case against moving staff and students of the one-­class-per-grade school from Tribeca's Independence Plaza to a new facility being built in the former Foundling Hospital on West 17 Street.

The plan was expected to be brought for a vote at the Sept. 19 meeting of the city's Panel for Edu­cational Policy. But in a letter on Tuesday to those who had attended the August meeting, Community District 2 School Superintendent Mariano Guzman said the DOE would not be going forward with its plan.

"The Department of Education will not be issuing a proposal to relocate PS150," Guzman wrote. "Thank you for your involvement regarding this matter."

Buxton Midyette, a parent leader in the opposition to the move, praised Guzman and Drew Patterson, the DOE's director of planning for Lower Manhattan, for heeding their concerns in the face of the Downtown overcrowding crisis that they are trying to solve.

"The process really worked," Midyette said. "They were conscientious in talking to all the constituents involved, and our concerns and message were heard."

First presented in April, the proposal sent shockwaves through the school, where it was bitterly opposed by those who said that most parents would not bus their children to the new Chelsea school. Instead, they said, many would choose their already overcrowded Downtown zoned schools. (P.S. 150 is unzoned.)

The move was supported by the majority of the school's staff and teachers.

Prior to the Sept. 3 announcement, the DOE, which hadn't responded to a request for comment, was reportedly considering turning the P.S. 150 space into a pre-k and kindergarten center in an effort to relieve the perennial kindergarten crunch in Downtown schools.

In the closed-door, August meeting with Guzman and Patterson, the parents had argued for keeping their school intact through the 2014-15 school year. They said that the opening of the 712-seat-capacity Peck Slip School in 2015, as well as the vacated classrooms in Tweed Courthouse where it is temporarily housed, would eliminate the need for a kindergarten center.

"We're saying, "Look, if we can just exhale and wait one year, there are myriad options and a lot of seats will open," Midyette said.

DOE officials had argued that the small school is not financially viable and is not well-suited for the inclusion of special-needs children. In addition, they said that the teachers were lacking the needed support of colleagues and did not have the resources to meet the new Common Core Standards.

But the parents said there is no arguing with success. P.S. 150 was among the highest-scoring (in some cases, the highest scoring) Down­­town school on the recent Com­mon Core tests.