Parents at scandal-tarred PS 29 have created an $8,000 slush fund for their beloved principal — and it’s all legal.
Fifth-grade parents at the tony Cobble Hill school — where a former PTA treasurer stole more than $80,000 last year — said they wanted to honor 10-year principal Melanie Woods by setting up a special fund that she gets to control.
“We wanted to have a certain recognition built in to show appreciation for her leadership,” said Jane Heaphy, the PTA’s co-president.
Woods took over the Henry Street school in 2001, and parents credit her with keeping class sizes down, recruiting top-notch teachers and launching initiatives like a garden-to-cafe project and a popular collaborative team-teaching program — even as the city slashed $1 million in funding since 2006.
“PS 29 is the heart of our community — and its because of the contributions of Melanie,” said Pietro Costa, who donated to the principal’s fund.
Many schools set up such accounts, which must be used on school improvements or special programs under the oversight of the Department of Education.
And Woods will be closely watched as she spends the money, given that PS 29 was rocked by scandal earlier this year when former PTA Treasurer Providence Hogan was arrested for stealing $82,000 from the parent group.
Hogan used the pilfered cash to pay for fertility treatments and rent at her Atlantic Avenue spa. Last week, she avoided jail time in a plea deal that requires her to pay back the money with interest.
Woods said she isn’t worried about any negative connection to the prior PTA scandal.
“Anything has potential for sparking controversy — but I’m confident that a good decision will be made,” said Woods, who is considering using the fund for teacher workshops and planning lessons run by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
Whatever she chooses to do, PS 29 kids will benefit from the stunning fundraising prowess of parents at the elite public school, which is between Baltic and Kane streets. Last year, even as the Hogan scandal broke, the PTA raised an eye-opening $700,000.
©2011 Community News Group
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