We scored a close third place and earned $150,000 in Participatory Budgeting funding for the green roof this latest go-round. Because the project won $500,000 in last year’s participatory budgeting process, and the high popular support for green roofs two years in a row, Council Member Kallos will allocate the full $500,000 for the Green Roof at P.S./I.S. 217. Combined with last year’s allocation of $500,000 and the $250,000 pledged by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the project is financed enough to begin scoping.
“I’m delighted that Councilmember Kallos will continue to join in supporting the Green Roof at P.S./I.S. 217,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Urban agriculture is a fresh approach to education and this funding will help sustain that approach.”
“Thank you to all of the supporters from our community and the city for voting for the PS/IS 217 STEM Green Roof. This Green Roof will further enhance the learning opportunities for the students and families of PS/IS 217 and the residents of Roosevelt Island,” said PS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman.
“Each year we expand our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) enrichment programming,” said PS 217 PTA President, Olga Shchuchinov. “So this deep support from the City, combined with the Participatory Budget funding, allows us to move forward and design our 21st century teaching hub on the roof.”
The entire $1M pot went to 10 district schools for more laptops and two schools for new green roofs, thanks to votes from 2000 district members aged 14 and over who voted on how they believe $1 million from City Councilman Ben Kallos’ participatory budgeting program should be spent. “STEM continues to be where residents are voting to invest their tax dollars to prepare our children for the future,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Participatory Budgeting Delegates for leading the process as well as residents 14 and over for voting.”
The Manhattan New School/P.S. 290 will also get $500,000 to finish its green roof, which school officials call a “desperately needed playspace.” The school won $500,000 for the $1 million project last spring.
The remaining $350,000 will be distributed among 10 schools – including P.S. 290, P.S./I.S. 217, P.S. 77, P.S. 198, M.S. 225, Eleanor Roosevelt, Urban Academy, Vanguard, Manhattan International School, and Life Sciences Secondary School – to use toward new laptops. This is the second year that STEM investments like laptop carts topped Participatory Budgeting, with a previous win in the first year for $250,000 to be distributed to schools throughout the district. This brings the total investment by Council Member Kallos in “STEM schools” to $2 million.
Council Member Ben Kallos was one of eight Council Members to adopt Participatory Budgeting in 2014, which has since grown to 28 Council Districts allocating nearly $32 million citywide. Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process where Council Members pledge to allocate their discretionary funds however residents 14 and over vote. These funds are capital and can only be used to pay for physical infrastructure projects proposed by community members called “Delegates”, such as improvements to schools, parks, libraries, public housing, and other public or community spaces.