If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer’s always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. – Nora Roberts
Right out of the school gate, PS 78 has decided to take the route of several highly sought after public schools in Manhattan and put in the big ask. This week, the parents of students attending the school, received a letter outlining the fundraising initiatives of the PTA, and in it they specifically requested a $250 donation per child. ‘Hmm, that’s a bit presumptuous’ you might be thinking. Not at all. Ambitious maybe, but there should be no question that the time is right to make this appeal.
First of all, after many years there is someone new heading the PTA this fall. So making the ask is a little more palatable and one of the advantages of being the new guy …gal. Of greater significance, is the big change in student composition, and more importantly the parents of these students. Quite simply, they are in a better position to afford it. Underlying all of this, is the big budget cutbacks that have occurred citywide over the last few years, which in PS 78’s case were exacerbated by the recent loss of Title I funding, due to the aforementioned student composition change1. The most visible manifestation of these cuts in public schools, ours included, is increased class sizes. The bane of a good education.
So, our local school needs more money and now they want it to come directly out of my pocket. What’s the upside? Really simple: it’s what is going to make our good school a great one. From a college perspective, that is like the difference between going to Cornell or Ithaca.2 Putting it in economic terms, the marginal difference between incomes in the 98th percentile and the 99th is $360,000 versus $506,000. I would say that’s a pretty good return for $250 a year. Finally, economics is where we are going to leave this discussion, because giving money to a public school PTA in NYC is the last arbitrage available to the upper middle class in this hedge fund filled city. Next year when they come back to you and ask for $500 per kid, and the following year $1,000, just smile as you write the check. Remember, sending young Spalding to Horace Mann would have cost you $41,150.
//In other news, we just can’t seem to get away from real estate in LIC. Two big changes have occurred since we focused on this topic Wednesday. First of all, a one-story manufacturing building with a huge footprint on 11th Street just changed hands for $7 million. More specifically location-wise, it sits on the southwestern corner of Murray Park. I don’t know what this area is called, as it’s not quite Hunters Point and not quite Court Square. But we need to come up with an acronym for it, because it is starting to establish a residential density that’s making it a community unto itself. Another equally visible change might occur just north of this area, were it to come to fruition, as Silver Cup Studios is renewing its request to go ahead with a billion- dollar, skyline-changing, multi-tower project. Hmm, maybe the Suna brothers are thinking the possibility of great schools in the neighborhood will be the magnet that helps fill all their new apartments.
Way Beyond Bake Sales: The $1 Million PTA – “these schools have earned a special name among parents and school consultants: “public privates.”
Huge Factory Building in LIC Sells for Big Bucks – “A building about three times larger than the factory on site is allowable through zoning.”
Silvercup Studios Seeking Permit Approvals Again for Delayed Expansion – “2.2 million-square-foot complex containing an office tower, high-rise apartment towers with 1,000 residences”
Sculpture Center to Re-open October 5 – great pics of the new space from Wesley Cheng’s LIC Court Square
Farina Sings Praises of LIC Charter School – and in another part of LIC
- basically, PS 78 went below the threshold of lower income kids needed to receive any [↩]
- Sure, they’re seemingly both expensive private colleges primarily filled with privileged children, but no one in their right minds doesn’t distinguish between the caliber of one school on a resume vs. the other. Cornell is one of about a dozen elite colleges, whereas Ithaca is one of 200 “good schools” for the children of Lake Wobegon and its ilks [↩]