Brooklyn’s “largest classroom” is getting the axe.
Thanks to increased budget cuts, Prospect Park is cutting the majority of its education programming, including park programs that allowed students from around the city to come and learn about science, nature, history and social studies, officials said.
“While the park will continue to offer a variety of public programs, we will be eliminating some education related positions and decreasing the hours worked by some part-time staff at both Lefferts Historic House and the Prospect Park Audubon Center,” said Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron in a statement to Patch, citing that reduced funding has caused the Alliance to increasingly take over costs from the Parks Department, therefore necessitating cuts to expenses and staffing costs.
School programs at the Lefferts Historic House and the Prospect Park Audubon Center will be suspended in entirety for the coming school year. School programs provided added curiculum for many local schools, allowing classrooms to visit the school for extracurricular lessons on everything from birds to how Brooklyn's Dutch settlers and Native Americans used to live.
Patron, however, implied that the suspension may be temporary, saying that the suspension “will allow park staff the opportunity to explore how to best structure and fund this important program.”
Schools will still be able to visit the buildings, however, Patron noted.
The weekend programs at Lefferts Historic House and the Audubon Center will remain intact, as will the BASE high school and Heart of Brooklyn BCAP summer programs, Patron said.
“We do lots of fieldtrips to the park. Everyone grades in grades K through five uses the park for all sorts of various things,” said Lucy Rorech, PTA President at PS 321. Her son is currently participating in one of the education programs at Lefferts Historic House, where youngsters learn how to cook food the way it was prepared in the 19th century.
“I’m guessing that all the local schools will all be affected by this,” said Rorech.
The park will also make a few other changes in order to cope with budget cuts, including suspending the Macy’s fishing contest and charging adults a “modest admission charge” at Lefferts Historic House.
Patron said that the Prospect Park Alliance will continue to look for additional funding to help cushion these budget blows.
“We hope that these changes to staffing and programming will have as little impact as possible on the public’s enjoyment of Prospect Park,” he said.