Pissed-off parents, some schlepping laptop bags and slurping coffee, jostled for a seat at a crisis meeting at the Children’s Aid Society in a Greenwich Village auditorium last night. Their goal? To try to save the school. CAS announced last week that it would likely shutter the school because it no longer met its mission to help only poverty-stricken children. The CAS’s three buildings on Sullivan Street are expected to be put up for sale, with an estimated $20 million to $30 million price tag, after its board votes on the issue on December 16. At the meeting, which I attended because my son Jack is a student there, a task force called SAVE — Save A Village Education — was announced to take on the cause. The plan is to either buy the school or find buyers to keep it an affordable, independent community school and to preserve the programs once CAS pulls out.
CAS has said it will try to keep the school open until June 2012, but parents are panicked, and teachers are scrambling for jobs. CAS has told the committee it may compromise on price if an educational outfit buys it, but it won’t discuss offers or possible terms, claiming it is premature to do so. SAVE will be leaning on the community for support, especially wealthy villagers. As one parent noted, there are people whose apartments cost more than $20 million who parents hope will recognize the value of preserving an affordable community school. Come forth!
Meanwhile, other schools are lining up as potential bidders, including Montessori and Little Red (a few blocks away), but parents are questioning if an expensive private school would keep the unique character of the current program in place. Others believe that NYU has already brokered a deal. Whatever the case, parents are distraught and are looking to secure their children’s education. The superb staff are staying upbeat and smiley-faced for the kids. “We have said to them we have to keep the services. We need to hang on to that goal and get support from the Greenwich Village community and the alumni, 100 years plus of them,” said Alexandra van Schie, the school’s parents committee co-chair, who is also urging parents to stay put. “The emotional message we have to send you is to keep your kid here if you want these programs to stay alive.”