Private Schools, especially in NYC, often work in tandem with Public Schools to use and fund athletic fields. In a city such as NY, the availability of large tracts of land for use as athletic facilities is at a premium, so it makes sense to share these resources among the community in both the private and public sectors. This has become a major division point in the construction of new fields on Randall’s Island.
The Gotham Gazette recently covered the controversial plan in their article here.
The old accord called for the private schools to pay $2.6 million annually to the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation in exchange for the use of two-thirds of the 66 new or improved athletic fields, currently under construction. Under the new agreement, the private schools will pay $2.2 million for the use of 50 percent of the fields. The sports foundation keeps $400,000 from the private school money, and the rest goes to the city.
Many parents groups and public figures contend that those making the Randall Island Deal had children attending some of the Private Schools included in the process, while others applaud the increase in funds that will funnel to the public school programs as well as the increased availability of fields to the public.
At stake is who, when and how much students and community residents get to use the fields on Randall’s Island. The island is a vast 273-acre piece of land that sits on the East River and is surrounded by the communities of East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Astoria, Queens. It’s sprinkled with facilities from tennis and golf centers, which you have to pay to use, to a homeless shelter, ball fields and more.
The dispute is a classic example of the debate over the proper use of private groups and money that finance public parks. Public-private partnerships, like the one between the sports foundation and the parks department, are seen as one solution to pump money into an underfunded budget for city parks.
Hopefully the athletic program fields on Randall’s Island will benefit the public in general, whether it’s students attend private or public schools.