View Full Version : All NYC Manhattan Country School Gets Flak Over Growth Plan

09-29-2014, 04:52 PM
From WSJ.com (http://online.wsj.com/articles/critics-say-move-will-hurt-manhattan-country-school-1411692812) by Sophia Hollander:

Manhattan Country School has long prided itself on being different. Graduation requirements include the ability to milk a cow. Children as young as 4 years old collaborate with teachers on creating their own classroom jobs. And the private school's commitment to diversity and inclusion surges past lip service: Tuition is calculated as a limited percentage of each family's income.

Now the school is embarking on an ambitious growth plan that includes doubling enrollment size, increasing teacher salaries and moving into a new building—which officials say will support its unique tuition model.

But critics, including the daughter of the school's founders, now director of the lower school, say that the changes risk undermining the school's mission and that the community wasn't adequately consulted.

"There are a lot of risks involved in this decision," said Mary Trowbridge, whose parents founded the school and who is also an alumna. Among them: losing the carefully cultivated sense of intimacy.

Most troubling, she said, was a sense that community members "have felt that they did not have a voice. It has been a tension."

Board Chairwoman Roxanne Elings said the school had studied best practices in developing its process and that times had changed since the school's founding in the mid-1960s.

"It's a lot more established now and it's a much larger community," she said. "We obtained opinions from the community, but ultimately the board is charged with this decision."

And while she respected dissenting opinions, Ms. Elings said, "the feedback is overwhelmingly in favor."

Under the plan, in 2016, enrollment at the prekindergarten through eighth-grade school would gradually increase to 400 students from around 200, adding a class to every grade. That year, the school will move into a historic building that currently houses Mannes College The New School for Music on the Upper West Side.

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