Checkmate: BK school may lose famous chess team due to budget cuts

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The Brooklyn Castle team, via Facebook

Sad news: though Brooklyn city schools have been put in the spotlight of late, one famous after-school chess program might be cut by the mayor due to budget constraints. Williamsburg’s I.S. 318 has boasted  a super successful chess program for a few years now, and they’re known to sweep local and national championships, giving members of the team, most of whom come from low-income households, the chance to score scholarships and other helpful academic accolades.

The program has been featured on the Daily Show, and was the subject of a 2012 documentary, Brooklyn Castle. The documentary’s popularity helped the program get more funding, but it still might not be enough to keep it in business, and it may be eliminated by this year’s city budget proposal. “Following the debut of  ‘Brooklyn Castle,’ the program has been lucky enough to receive donations from private entities and individuals – but although these donations are wonderful, the chess team may not be able to survive if the City cuts our funding this year,” chess team member Pobo Efekoro said in a statement. “Everyone understands how bad our economy is, but our budget must reflect what we as society value. If these programs go, there is no doubt the future of this great city will be compromised.” Team members will be able to fight for their program at a budget hearing before the cuts are made official, and the school is still accepting private donations (you can make one here) but there’s still a chance it will be gone in the upcoming fiscal year. And if our city schools can’t save something as academic and life-changing as chess, what hope is there?

[h/t Capital New York]

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  1. I seriously hope I’m not eating crow a few months from now, but I just don’t buy that the city is really going to cut this program. Bloomberg is too PR savvy to let that happen.

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