January 12, 2011

Cathie Black
Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, New York 10007

Lorraine Grillo
President & CEO
School Construction Authority
30-30 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, New York 11101

Dear Chancellor Black and Ms. Grillo,

I write regarding yesterday's announcement by the Archdiocese of New York that 13 parish and archdiocesan schools in New York City will be closed at the end of this academic year. While this is undoubtedly a difficult time for the schools' many families, educators and administrators, I urge the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the School Construction Authority (SCA) to assess the schools the Archdiocese has designated for closure to determine if their physical plants could be used for public schools.

As you know, overcrowding has plagued many of our City's public schools for years. In my State Senate District in particular, such overcrowding has been exacerbated by a development boom that has brought large numbers of school-age children into our neighborhoods. While DOE and SCA have taken some steps to add capacity, we are still far short of meeting current and future demand. As we look toward creating more seats in this difficult economic environment, it is incumbent upon DOE and SCA to explore leasing or purchasing buildings vacated by phased-out parochial schools as a relatively cost-effective option.

Reuse of former parochial school space for public education recently proved successful in the relocation of Clinton School for Writers and Artists, which, after much deliberation, found a home suitable to the entire school family in the former St. Michael's Academy campus. Given that at least some of the schools designated for closure are located in neighborhoods with severely overcrowded public schools and that new educational space is always needed citywide, DOE and SCA should explore repurposing these former parochial schools to accommodate our growing public school population.

I thank you for considering this recommendation and look forward to your reply.


Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th Senate District

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