OPINION: Mayoral control saved our school

BY JONAH BENTON, BUXTON AND LISA MIDYETTE AND ANSHAL PUROHIT | Toward the end of last year, the future of our Blue Ribbon award-winning school, P.S. 150, the Tribeca Learning Center, hung in the balance. That is when the families and staff members learned that after 25 years in our beloved home, our school would have to find somewhere else to exist after the 2018-19 school year.

The problem: We needed more time to find a new home for our hardworking students and staff. Anyone who has ever hunted for an apartment in New York City knows that it can be a long and frustrating process. Imagine trying to relocate an entire school in mere months.

We tried to negotiate with our building’s leaseholder, explaining that our situation was more than disruptive; it threatened whether or not we could remain a school at all. All of us, and all our children, were tremendously anxious. Curriculum planning had to grind to a halt.

Last November, P.S. 150 students, staff and parents rallied to keep their school from leaving Tribeca. (Photo by Milo Hess)

Our plight was about more than the survival of one New York City school. Our students and staff members have been supporting local businesses through our Taste of Tribeca fundraiser for nearly 25 years. An eviction would put an entire community at risk.

Sadly, our arguments fell on deaf ears, and in the end, we could not reach an agreement that would allow us enough time to plot our future. That is when we put out a cry for help — and Mayor Bill de Blasio stepped in.

After learning about our situation, the mayor contacted our leaseholder personally —yes, personally. He worked out a deal that would allow us to continue focusing on our students’ academic growth while a search for a new school site begins in earnest. In fact, the new agreement allows P.S. 150 to stay at our current location for several years longer than the landlord had originally offered.

For us, this wasn’t a matter of politics; this was a matter of doing what was right for our children and educators. It sounds so simple and obvious. But it couldn’t have happened if the mayor was not directly responsible for our schools.

Here’s what we mean. Before mayoral control, principals, staff members and parents would have had to lose valuable classroom time building a case for P.S. 150 across several school boards and committees. We would have been lucky to have received a decision before our lease expired. With mayoral accountability, we just needed to enlist the one person who is accountable for the success of our schools, and that is the mayor.

We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio for his assistance. Likewise, parents throughout the city need to know that when an issue arises, our current — and future — mayors will do whatever it takes to keep students in classrooms learning. This is the promise we make to our students. This is the promise of mayoral accountability.

Benton, the Midyettes and Purohit are P.S. 150 parent leaders

One Response to OPINION: Mayoral control saved our school

  1. There is a lot more to this story than the writer is letting on. The Mayor does not intervene personally in land use situations unless some other deal is made. The public has a right to know what that deal was. What did the Mayor give Vornado in exchange for this? The silence on this issue is deafening. PS 150 parents are being disingenuous on this matter or else just being naive. Delighted the school stays, but the deal-making needs to have public scrutiny.

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