Yocasta Polanco, PS 112
by Benjamin Fang
Jun 24, 2019 | 2163 views | 0 0 comments | 916 916 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In every participatory budgeting cycle since 2015, PS 112 in Dutch Kills has won at least one project.

In Cycle 5, the school won a $500,000 playground upgrade. The following year, it won $450,000 for bathroom improvements, $700,000 for mobile laptops and carts, and $800,000 for water fountain installations.

The next year, it received $900,000 for gymnasium upgrades and another $500,000 for technology enhancements. This year, PS 112 won $200,000 for repairs to four bathrooms and $400,000 for more tech upgrades.

Behind their constant winning efforts is parent coordinator Yocasta Polanco, who has served in that role since 2015.

“We treat it as a campaign,” she said. “We go all around the community and we collect signatures to have their support.”

Polanco gets everyone involved, including teachers, parents and even nearby schools.

On the first day of voting, she sets up a table at each entrance to the school. Parent volunteers ask fellow parents who drop off or pick up their kids to cast a vote.

Then they go to IS 204 and Growing Up Green Charter School to ask students and parents to vote as well.

“We couldn’t have done it without the community supporting us,” she said. “Everybody plays their part, especially the parents. I couldn’t have done it if we didn’t have teachers at our school who care.”

Polanco said she loves helping parents, including Spanish-speaking parents who have a harder time communicating with teachers.

But ultimately, Polanco said the best part of working at PS 112 is the students. She said when she opens the door for pre-K students in the morning, they “run to me like they haven’t seen me” in a long time.

“The kids are the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.
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