NEWS AND ISSUES
Statement by New York State Senator Duane
before a Joint Hearing on the Co-Location
of P.S. 452 with Existing Schools at M044
(100 West 77 Street, Manhattan)
April 13, 2010
My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York Statefs 29th Senate District, which includes the portion of Community School District 3 (D3) below West 85th Street. I thank the New York City Department of Education (DOE), the School Leadership Teams, and the D3 Community District Education Council (CEC3) for hosting tonightfs hearing on the proposal to co-locate PS 452, a new three-section elementary school, with existing schools in M044 at 100 West 77 Street. In light of the persistent and systemic overcrowding in the area, I am in support of this proposal, which would create 75 new kindergarten seats in its first year.
For many years, I have joined public school parents and parent associations, CEC3, Community Board 7 (CB7), and fellow elected officials in calling for a new school on the Upper West Side. The past decadefs development boom has brought hundreds of new school-age children into the area, and there has been a marked increase in the percentage of students attending the schools for which they are zoned, yet there has been no commensurate increase in school seats. The failure of DOE and the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) to take these factors into account when developing enrollment projections and utilization rates on which to base capital planning produced severe overcrowding in many D3 schools. It is a postive step that DOE has heard the concerns of D3 stakeholders and proposed to create PS 452 in M044 – a building located in the area where school overcrowding is most severe.
As I and other area elected officials noted in a March 17 letter to DOE Chancellor Joel Klein and SCA President Sharon Greenberger, concerns about the future capacity of M044 remain. It is essential that DOE and SCA detail their plans to accommodate all of the schools co-located within the building as soon as possible and I regret that we have yet to receive a response to our request. Moreover, it is important to recognize that PS. 452 would not solve all of the overcrowding problems in D3. Indeed, it is projected that a number of wait-listed students would not be accommodated at PS 452 and would likely have to travel through two or more zones to a school with available seats. Furthermore, many other D3 schools would remain overcrowded.
Nonetheless, I strongly believe that this proposal is the only responsible way forward and its benefits would ripple throughout the area. Without the creation of this new school, DOE would have to identify an additional 75 seats in the district for next year, inevitably eliminating schoolsf prized special programs and converting scarce cluster rooms into core instructional space. Nearby PS 191 will almost certainly be filled to capacity with zoned students and overflow from PS 199, thus schools farther to the north would likely be most adversely impacted. A successful and fully-utilized PS 452 would ensure that such drastic measures are unnecessary.
The need for a new elementary school is clear. Patchwork measures like the rezonings and relocations implemented last year tear apart communities and do nothing to address the structural deficiencies that cause overcrowding. PS 452 is a concrete step towards alleviating overcrowding in D3 now and in years to come. I thank CEC3, CB7, and the many parents who have offered invaluable insights and cogent arguments throughout this challenging process, and DOE for recognizing the needs of the community and proposing a viable solution.