Staff received a notice to vacate the school’s facility by Friday, Sept. 28, at 11:59 p.m. from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). It is estimated to cost up to 25 of the 30 employees their jobs.
Across the city, staff and parents at the school said Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s EarlyLearn program, an education system throughout the five boroughs that provides services for low-income families, disrupts community-based organizations such as the Horace C. Green Day Care Center.
Irma Varner, the Board Chairperson of Bushwick Improvement Society, Inc., said that though the building was not being closed, most staff members in the facility would lose their jobs. According to the order, Varner said the turning over of the building was based on falsely identified low-test scores.
“I don’t believe what they said about the scores,” Varner said, who stressed that the school did an RFP that was open to the public. Varner also added that the group’s posted score was a 90.6.
“They’re trying to dismantle the early childhood system as we know it,” said Karen Daughtry, executive director of the Alonzo A. Daughtry Memorial Day Care Center in Boerum Hill. Much like the Horace C. Green Day Center, Daughtry’s school has also been asked to relinquish control of their facility after more than a 40-year run.
“Our scores were also lowered,” Daughtry said, who believes that only select groups are receiving requests for proposals with the new EarlyLearn program.
However, Bloomberg stated in a press release that EarlyLearn NYC “gives us the opportunity to transform the system from the ground up and bring quality early care and education to New York’s neediest and youngest children during the critical developmental years of their lives.”
ACS also wrote in an email that based on their strong proposals, Bushwick United Housing Development Fund Corporation scored higher than Bushwick Improvement Society and was recommended for an EarlyLearnNYC award for the city-leased site in Brooklyn located on Hart Street, and Bushwick United will serve children and families at this location with a new, rigorous model for children who are eligible for Head Start child care.
With just a few days till the end of the week, staff held firm their decision to keep the school open.
Robert Camacho, vice-chair of the Bushwick Improvement Society, said that he would be at the facility on Friday when it was supposed to be turned over, along with other staff members.
“I’m not leaving,” he said. “This is our school.”