Volume 17 • Issue 36 • Jan. 28 — February 3, 2005

I.S. 89 considers asking for a bite of Taste of Tribeca

By Hemmy So

P.T.A. members at I.S. 89, a school in dire need of more funds, approached Taste of Tribeca organizers this week for inclusion in their fundraiser, which currently benefits P.S. 150 and 234.

After initial discussions, I.S. 89 decided not to press for inclusion this year, but may look to revisit the issue in the future.

After organizing various fundraising events for I.S. 89, including a disappointing wine and cheese tasting last fall that raised less than $5,000, the I.S. 89 P.T.A. still lacks the money it needs to meet its $60,000 budget demands.

Having already slashed its budget from $93,000 and dried up its 9/11 funds, the P.T.A. needs money to keep various school programs, such as the music and language classes, afloat.

“We want to ensure that it continues to be successful because part of what makes [I.S.89] such a great school is that it has had a good group of supplemental programs that have been paid for by the proceeds that the P.T.A. can provide,” said Max McCalman, president of I.S. 89 P.T.A.

The school had to cancel its half-year sixth grade Spanish class last fall due to budget shortfalls.

Participation in the Taste of Tribeca fundraiser offers I.S. 89, or Hudson River Middle School, a solid way to raise additional monies. The May event typically raises thousands of dollars for the two elementary schools in Tribeca. A massive collaboration with Tribeca restaurants and businesses, the food tasting draws crowds from all over New York City.

Angela Benfield, co-president of P.S./I.S. 89 P.T.A., believes that because Taste of Tribeca advertises that it benefits public schools, I.S. 89 should be included. “This is something I.S. 89 should be included in and should have been included in when the first opened in 1998. Taste of Tribeca started in 1994 – at that time only P.S. 150 and 234 were open,” she said.

I.S. 89 is not technically located in Tribeca but sits on Warren St. just at the border between Tribeca and Battery Park City. Nonetheless, McCalman, whose own children graduated from P.S. 234, points out that many P.S. 150 and P.S. 234 graduates wind up at I.S. 89.

“Graduates of 234 and 150 – most go to I.S. 89. They want to stay in the neighborhood,” McCalman said. “The largest percentage of its student body is from Tribeca and Battery Park City, from the community.”

Though Benfield strongly supports joining Taste of Tribeca, McCalmun wants to take a cautious approach.

“We don’t want to take anything away from 150 and 234 we hope that with our participation, we can only add to the program,” he said. “Speaking personally, I’m really uncomfortable asking for either of these schools for any of the proceeds,” he added.

Both McCalman and Benfield noted that because the planning stages for this year’s Taste of Tribeca have already begun, they recognize that I.S. 89 may be unable to participate in 2005. But they both hope to convince Taste of Tribeca organizers to grant I.S. 89 future participation.

Kevin Fisher, president of P.S. 234, said P.S. 234 and P.S. 150 received I.S. 89 P.T.A.’s request to join the fundraiser via e-mail. After joint discussion and coordination, the two elementary P.T.A. groups will likely respond to I.S. 89’s request sometime next week, he said.

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