A seemingly inexplicable siting decision stands corrected, due in large part to the efforts of the Community Education Council (CEC) for District 14, JHS 126 Principal Marcos Bausch and District Leader Lincoln Restler.
Planned construction at PS 34 and PS 110 this summer left each school’s Out-of-School Time (OST) Program in need of a new home. The choice for the temporary relocations? Cook Street’s PS 257, nearly two miles away from either school. With no easy mass transit alternative to the school, local parents were left with the possibility of losing access to OST this summer. OST Programs offer NYC students, kindergarten through eighth grade free academic, recreational and cultural activities after school, during holidays and the summer. The program provides kids with a safe environment and working parents a place they can feel comfortable leaving their children during work hours. Approximately 200 Greenpoint families enroll their kids in OST.
As word of PS 257 becoming the site for the two schools’ OST spread, parents reached out to CEC First Vice President Christopher Laukamg, who called on The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Department of Education (DOE) and local elected officials to address the issue. “The parents were in a bit of a jam due to the educational fiscal budget cuts to the OST programs and a problem to house the 2012 summer program,” he said. “I felt compelled to do something for the hard working parents who needed help and answers quickly.”
While seeking a solution for the parents he represents, Laukamg approached Restler for advice. After exploring various solutions, Restler contacted Bausch about the possibility of using his school to house the 34 and 110 OST this summer. JHS 126 is within walking distance of both public schools. “He said, ‘This is not my school; it’s the community’s school. I would be happy to have them hold their programs here,’” said Restler. Several phone calls later, the arrangements were made.
Bausch, who is in his first year at 126, grew up in the neighborhood, and is well aware of the reputation the school has among some community members. “My ultimate goal is to give the school back to the community,” he said. “Over the years, there has been a disconnect caused by people thinking that 126 is not accessible. When people see the wonderful things going on here, I think perceptions will change.”
Laukamg credits Restler’s determination for keeping the programs in Greenpoint. “It is very important as local elected officials that we stand behind our neighborhood daycare centers and afterschool programs,” Restler said. Added Laukamg, “He stepped up, and worked with all parties involved, to ensure that the kids were kept in the neighborhood. That was the most important part.”
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