City Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewerare pushing back against a plan to close P.S. 150, a highly regarded local school also known as the Tribeca Learning Center.
In a letter sent Tuesday, the elected officials urge Stellar Management, the owner of the residential portion of Independence Plaza (the giant housing complex that is home to P.S. 150), and Vornado Realty, the partner that manages the retail section of the development, to meet with officials from the City’s Department of Education(DOE) to negotiate a lease extension on the school space.
Current DOE plans call for the school to close next spring, at the end of the 2018-19 school year. This scheme was announced only after classes had begun in September, although community leaders believe that the DOE officials have been aware of this timetable for months.
The letter from Ms. Chin and Ms Brewer notes that, “P.S. 150 is an integral part of a growing Tribeca, which is home to an increasing number of families with your children. Though it is open to all students in District 2, the majority of students currently enrolled are from the immediate neighborhood — including many children from Independence Plaza.”
The DOE plans to move all students now enrolled at P.S. 150 to a space within the Peck Slip School on a temporary basis, and then relocate the school a second time several years later, when the new public school currently under construction on Trinity Placeopens. In both of these scenarios, Lower Manhattan will suffer a net loss of schools seats, as part of the capacity at Peck Slip and Trinity Place is reallocated to P.S. 150. (Both Peck Slip and Trinity were originally conceived to provide additional school seats Downtown, rather than offsetting the loss created by closing an existing school.)
This is not P.S. 150’s first brush with extinction. In 2013, the DOE abruptly announced plans to shut down the school, and move its student to a new facility at 17th Street and Sixth Avenue. Heated community opposite, and united leadership by local elected officials convinced the administration of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to back away from this plan. A reprise of that effort now appears likely.
The following year, P.S. 150 was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It was the only elementary school in Manhattan (and one of just 17 in New York State) to receive this honor, which is awarded annually to public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on, “on overall academic excellence and progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.” P.S. 150 was cited in the first category, as an “exemplary high performing school.” (A total of 287 public schools nationwide were designated National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2014.)