P.S. 199/CENTER SCHOOL DEBATE CONTINUES

Written by admin on . Posted in Opinion and Column.


To the Editor:
I attended a recent meeting, and I was appalled that the PA president’s council was in favor of moving The Center School and equally appalled that the CEC thinks this is a good idea. It might be better to move The Anderson School out of to a less populated district, use the space at P.S. 9 for a new elementary school and do the same at the space that was going to be occupied by the Anderson School. There would be new space all around for our younger children. Probably about 600 seats. No middle-schooler has to be disrupted; but yes, those who would like to attend but couldn’t would have to walk or bus a few blocks, but that’s not so bad. I did it with my kids for years at P.S. 87. The Department of Education should give more thought to this, because regardless of what the CEC has said, I saw no evidence that they gave much thought to this other than to find a quick solution to a one-school problem. What about the rest of the district? If you’re looking to solve a problem that is district-wide, solve it on a district-wide basis. What is 199 going to do two years from now? Those who are most vocal and to whom the CEC seems to be listening will be higher in grades, and approaching middle school, leaving what will then be a much larger problem to incoming parents to solve.

Jerry Butler
Center School Parent

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

To the Editor:
Oft overlooked and central to the Community Education Council draft resolution is that most families in the P.S. 199 catchment choose to send their children to P.S. 199, an elementary school offering only a general education program. Might I offer that up as a feather in the cap of public education? Too many families, not enough room. See the problem?

The idea to use space at P.S. 9 as a new elementary school was proposed and considered. Is anyone at all curious as to the Department of Education manpower and resources needed to implement this idea? In these economic times? Seriously?
Further, even if P.S. 199 families were given every seat available in this overflow idea, it would still not accommodate every kindergartener in our catchment for next year. Sending the excess 199 kindergarteners to P.S. 191 and P.S. 87 could hamper or eliminate their choice programs.
Center School is a district-wide middle school. Their passionate argument against relocation infers their program’s collapse. Have faith, wonderful and vital Center School. “Yes You Can” survive a move!

The very best we can do is advocate equitable and age-appropriate choices for our children. And to continue to offer those same choices to the children who come after our children.

The only issue is space. The only solution lies in absolute district-wide fairness.

Becky Neustadt
P.S. 199 and M.S. 54 parent

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

To the Editor:
As with most parents, I would go to the ends of the earth to do what is best for my child. If that included putting him on a bus or taking him on a subway every morning to school, I would do it. But I will not do that when there is one of the best elementary schools in the city one block away—where my neighbors can watch over my child, where I have neighbors who can pick up my child if I cannot (I am a single parent.)

Many of us made sacrifices to move to this area or to stay in this area—myself and several parents (both potential and current) I know are in studios and one-bedroom apartments with one or more children so that we can stay here and send our kids to this school and, more importantly, to stay where we have created a wonderful community.

Two things could change our community: 1) Not allowing any new children into P.S. 199 for at least the next three years, which is what would happen if we don’t gain The Center School space, and 2) if the parents and connected parties to the Center School continue their vitriolic attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

If this is the legacy The Center School wants to leave, then so be it; but I would hope as an educational institution and as our neighbors they can move beyond that, and we can begin to repair the harm done. We have been called racist and elitist. That is not the community I know and not the one I am fighting for. The community I know includes musicians and teachers and those working hard in the private and public sector as advocates for any number of social causes. And yes, we have a large number of wealthy individuals as well. AND so does Center School. This is not a bad thing to have at a public school—it means our teachers can teach and take home their hard-earned paycheck and not have to pay for crayons and paper towels in their classrooms.

Why doesn’t Center School want a bigger space with more rooms and more resources, where their children don’t have to learn in hallways? I still haven’t heard a compelling argument.

Karen Dinitz
Prospective P.S. 199 Parent

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

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