Brooklyn Private School Struggles With Its Identity

by NYC Firm Schools on May 8, 2012

One of the things that many parents have enjoyed about Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn is the personal feel of the school. It wasn’t one of the Manhattan or Riverdale “elite” schools. The school had a hometown feel and that made it charming.

However, in recent years the school has increasingly started looking more and more like the elite Manhattan schools.

The New York Times has a great article on this struggle.

Packer Collegiate Institute is trying to branch out into that “upper tier” status without losing its small school charm. That’s not as easy to do as it is to say, but school administrators are proud of their recent growth and recognition.

“We’re becoming more of a New York City school located in Brooklyn than a Brooklyn school,” said Bruce L. Dennis, Packer’s head of school.

More and more incoming freshmen are coming from Manhattan, not Brooklyn. And more of the fundraising the school does leads to money acquisition from Manhattan. That has some parents worried. The reality is that schools need money to stay open, whether it is from families in the local neighborhoods or those outside of those neighborhoods. In Packer’s case, the neighborhood(s) it supports is expanding.

Packer Collegiate Institute opened its doors in 1845, so it has a long history, and traditions, to protect. But school administrators are looking to the future for its real life. Since the current administrator took over as head of the school, Packer has grown in high school enrollment by 20%.

The NYC private school competition is fierce, and with the economy forcing many parents to keep a tight rein on their budgets, Packer Collegiate Institute offers a less expensive alternative to some schools in Manhattan without parents having to sacrifice reputation.

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