J’can-founded Garvey School in Bronx faces uncertain future
The Garvey School, situated on Baychester Avenue in the Bronx, United States, faces an uncertain future as the landlords for the building where the school is currently located want to reclaim the space.
Founded by Jamaican educator June O’Connor and named after Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Garvey, the school currently has an enrollment of 120 students and 20 teachers. A 501 c 3 institution, the school was founded in 2009 and has been at its present location since 2012.
The non-public school serves two-year-olds, Pre-K up to Grade 8.
The building management, River Bay Management, recently took the school to housing court in the Bronx seeking to get back the building.
The parties are to return to court on August 14 and the school’s management has to submit a brief to the court by August 4.
O’Connor told The Gleaner that the building management has given no reason for wanting the school out of its current space.
“I can only assume that with the current real estate market the management believes that it will get more money for the space,” she said.
The Garvey School currently pays a rent of just over US$5,000 per month to rent the space.
Since opening its doors in 2009, the Garvey School has served over 7000 students and placed approximately 90 per cent of its graduates comfortably in competitive high schools and independent schools.
Riverbay Corporation recently terminated the lease which places the school’s four-year 3K early childhood city contract at risk because it is site specific.
“Early childhood service is a very high need for Caribbean, African, African-American and Hispanic families. The loss of this programme will create significant hardship for our families, as well as loss of income for our staff who are all head of household and main bread-winners,” said O’Connor.
The school is seeking a one-year extension on its current lease, which will give it time to find suitable accommodation to re-locate the school.
She said an extended lease will allow adequate time to relocate the programme in proximity to the current location which will greatly increase the chance of retaining the four-year grant.
The community has rallied to the side of the school and Jamaica’s consul general in New York, Alsion Wilson, has written to the Bronx Borough president, asking that she intervene in the dispute to save the school.
The school is built on the principle that every child should experience a stimulating, educational environment to foster emotional, social, and academic growth while engaging in active discovery and inquiry-based learning where every question is a valid entry point to a larger discourse.
“We are proud that our track record shows students are admitted to the following schools: Fieldstone, Thornton-Donovan, Hackley, Harvey and Masters. Among our public schools are Brooklyn Technical High School and Bronx Science,” she said
Wilson told The Gleaner that the efforts to save the school, whether at its existing location, or at a new location are ongoing.
“The school provides a necessary service and should be allowed to continue functioning,” she said.