REZONING OK’D

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District 3’s Community Education Council has given the final go-ahead to the rezoning plan that has roiled the community. The Department of Education says the vote was essentially the last stroke to put the plan into execution for the 2009-10 school year.

The plan, approved by a 7-1 margin at a Nov. 19 meeting, is intended to alleviate crowding in the district, particularly at P.S. 199 on West 70th Street. The Center School middle school will move from P.S. 199’s building to the P.S. 9 building on West 84th Street. And The Anderson School will move from P.S. 9 into the building on West 77th Street shared by M.S. 44 and The Computer School. The exact timeframe for the schools moving over the summer remains unclear, the department says.

During the public comment section of the Nov. 19 meeting, P.S. 199 parents praised the proposal, while Center School parents continued their staunch opposition. Meanwhile, a few parents from The Computer School expressed concern that The Anderson School, a gifted school, would take precedence in their building. These parents, along with Center School parents and other diversity advocates, had staged a rally before the meeting. According to the group’s press release, they were protesting “a proposal that primarily benefits the district’s wealthiest school at the expense of several other schools with much greater racial, social and economic diversity.”

State Sen. Tom Duane made an emotional speech at the meeting as well, saying the conflict had been “wrenching” and that he hoped the various parties could come together.

Another group of parents upset by the changes were residents of three buildings at the bottom of Riverside Boulevard, which were zoned out of P.S. 199 and into the P.S. 191 building in the final draft of the proposal. Many residents of those buildings spoke at the meeting. Jennifer Freeman, the point person for the rezoning issue on the Community Education Council, said it was technically impossible to amend the proposal at the meeting, but urged these parents to appeal the specific zoning lines within 10 days of the vote, in accordance with the Chancellor’s regulations.

As for whether P.S. 199’s building will be ready to for the influx of students, “We’re confident the school will be able to accommodate all the students without any facilities work being done,” said Will Havemann, a department spokesperson.

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