District 3’s Community Education Council has drafted a recommendation endorsing a controversial plan to remove the Center School, a small middle school, from the West 70th Street building it currently shares with P.S. 199. The move is intended to alleviate crowding in P.S. 199. The tentative plan, as described in the drafted resolution endorsed by the parent council, would move The Center School to the P.S. 9 building on West 84th, and move another small school, The Anderson School, into M.S. 44’s building on West 77th Street. That building is also shared by The Computer School. This hybrid option, combining school relocation and rezoning, aims to solve space issues on both a short- and long-term basis.
The resolution draft states that the parent council endorses the move provided that “adequate space exists for The Computer School and M.S. 44 in their current location, and The Center School and The Anderson School to remain in their new buildings without any further disruption.”
Parents of younger students at P.S. 199 have been fierce advocates of moving the Center School, as have a separate group of neighborhood parents with children slated to enter the school in the next year or two. These parents, active in an online community, are cheering on the parent council’s decision.
Center School parents, however, are less than thrilled.
Tensions have been running high as the loose deadline set by the Department of Education for approving a plan, Nov. 30, approaches. The parent council had to create a separate email address just for complaints and comments about the various rezoning proposals. Attendees reported that at the parent council meeting on Nov. 5 required the presence of three policemen. Both factions have started letter-writing campaigns aimed at local elected officials, the parent council and media.
Center School parents briefly thought the department had proposed an appealing solution: a new elementary school in P.S. 9’s school building.
“That plan just seemed to have dissolved into the air,” says Alan Madison, a Center School parent who has been active in trying to block the proposed move.
The department would not elaborate on why the proposal for a new elementary school in P.S. 9 never gained traction, but John White, chief operating officer for the department’s Office of Portfolio Development, said in a statement: “This has been a process both involving a deep attempt to understand a wide variety of viewpoints in the community and an attempt to establish long-term stability for schools and families. There are often trade-offs involved in achieving those goals. We’re not likely to meet every single constituent’s vision, but we will achieve to the degree possible the value of stability for both parents and schools.”
The parent council’s proposal also recommends that the city build another school in the district.
At press time, a public meeting to discuss the proposal was scheduled for Nov. 12.
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