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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

RIOC Recommends Roosevelt Island Youth Program To Continue As Youth Center Operator Following Advice Of Independent Review Panel - But PS/IS 217 PTA President Starts Letter Writing Campaign To Oppose RIYP Selection

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) confirmed last week it will recommend to the RIOC Board of Directors that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) continue to be the Operator of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center.

On January 9, I asked RIOC President Susan Rosenthal:
I understand that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program was awarded the RFP contract by RIOC to operate the Youth Center.

Is that true?

Any comment from RIOC?
Ms Rosenthal replied the next day:
Based on RIYP’s grant application– which received the highest rating from an independent panel of reviewers from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery – we will be recommending that the Board, at its upcoming January 25 meeting, award the $200,000 annual grant to RIYP....
Newly hired RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson added:
The Roosevelt Island Youth Center operator contract term is for three years with a RIOC option to renew for up to two additional one-year terms.

Click here for all the details outlined in the original RFP.
RIYP Executive Director Charlie Defino reacted to the news:
The announcement that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc.. has been selected to continue it's mission of serving the Roosevelt Island community is wonderful. We are ecstatic about having the opportunity to continuing offering free services to the entire island and building on our four decades of successful operation.
According to reliable sources, there were two applicants for the current Roosevelt Island Youth Center Operator Request For Applications - RIYP and Island Kids.

At least one Roosevelt Island resident disagrees with RIOC's recommendation of RIYP as the Youth Center Operator. A tipster forwarded this message sent by PS/IS 217 PTA President Erin Olavesen to the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network yesterday:
According to the WIRE, RIOC has confirmed that the RIYP is the highest scorer for the Youth Center operator contract. The award requires approval from the RIOC board. This will be put to a vote on January 25, at their next board meeting.

RIOC giving a 3 year contract to RIYP to run our youth center is distressing and disappointing on so many levels. I hear the talk and know many of you feel the same. I’m sending a letter to RIOC to express my concerns, and asking the WIRE to publish it. I know many of you feel the youth center leadership will never change, and it isn't worth giving it a second thought. I'd hope if enough of us raise concerns, RIOC will be forced to act.

Please let me know if you’d like to read it and possibly sign your name with mine. Our kids deserve better.
I asked Ms. Olavesen:
I understand that you sent a statement today to the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network objecting to RIOC awarding the Youth Center Operator RFP to the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP). You also stated that you will be contacting RIOC asking them not to award the Youth Center Operator RFP to RIYP and urged members of the Parents Network to contact RIOC and do the same.

Is that correct?

If it is correct, why do you think it is appropriate for the President of the PS/IS 217 PTA to advocate, either in favor or opposition, to any specific applicant for the Roosevelt Island Youth Center operator, particularly since the PTA itself receives Public Purpose Funding from RIOC?

Please let me know if you will comment on this matter. I am happy to include your response in a story I plan on publishing tomorrow.

Also, if you wish, am happy to publish any letter from you on the subject as well.
Ms Olavesen replied:
Please note that I sent an email to the RIPN and posted on the Roosevelt Island Parents' Facebook page as an island resident and mother of two children. I did not send the email or post on behalf of the PTA.
There is a contentious history between the RIYP and PS/IS 217 school principal/PTA. As previously reported last spring and summer, the PS/IS 217 PTA and School Principal were responsible for removing the RIYP as the PS/IS 217 Beacon After School Provider.

Also a prior 2016 Roosevelt Island Youth Center Operator Request For Proposals was withdrawn by RIOC. The reason for the withdrawal according to RIOC President Rosenthal was:
... members of the Roosevelt Island community have submitted numerous communications to RIOC generally questioning the legitimacy of the review that resulted in a tie. Some communications included disparaging remarks about bidders. All such communications, attempting to influence the RIOC review committee while the RFP is pending, are inappropriate and are prohibited by State Finance Law. These communications, among other things, caused RIOC to withdraw the RFP on January 27, 2017.....
The tie was between RIYP and Island Kids.

Stay tuned for more.