DOE is Backing Away from Promises on New Downtown Schools, Say Advocates

By George Hunka

UPDATE (November 24): The Tribeca Trib Online provided further details about last week’s DOE meeting in this November 21 post. In the article, reporter Carl Glassman quotes Buxton Midyette, a PS 150 parent and School Leadership Team member who attended the meeting: “It is disappointing and shocking to get the news tonight. Of the 912 seats we expected, there is still going to be a shortfall of 456 seats.”

In today’s issue of The Broadsheet Daily, reporter Matthew Fenton writes that the DOE may be modifying a pledge that it made in June for 1,000 new school seats in lower Manhattan. Fenton says:

Lower Manhattan leaders are concerned that the Department of Education (DOE) may be modifying the terms of a pledge that it made in June, and affirmed as recently as several weeks ago, to build 1,000 new school seats in Lower Manhattan. At a Wednesday meeting of the Community Education Council for District 2 (the public school zone that includes Lower Manhattan), DOE officials announced that half of these seats would be built above Canal Street, and were unable to say where or when the remaining 400-plus seats would be sited within Lower Manhattan.

“Our jaws dropped,” says Paul Hovitz, the co-chair of the Youth and Education Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), which has been a forum for arguing in favor of building additional school capacity in Lower Manhattan for the past decade. “At several meetings over the last five months, they said they were acknowledging that Lower Manhattan needs 1,000 seats, and that those seats would be built down here. Then, on Wednesday, they said they planned to build fewer than 500 here, with the rest going further uptown.” …

A DOE source, who asked not to be named, counters that, “we have not scaled back our commitment to open two new elementary schools, and close to 1,000 seats, in Lower Manhattan in any way. Nothing about that commitment has changed. The proposed capital plan calls for the construction of two elementary schools in District 2 for a total of 912 new seats. One of the two new elementary schools would be located just north of Canal Street, but we expect both of these new schools will help to alleviate overcrowding in Lower Manhattan.”

Read the entire story here, and feel free to leave any reflections or thoughts in the comments section to this post.


2 thoughts on “DOE is Backing Away from Promises on New Downtown Schools, Say Advocates

  1. Having attended this meeting with two other parents from PS150, it is very clear that the DOE’s School Construction Authority is not a true partner with Community Board 1 or Sheldon Silver’s Overcrowding Task Force group (full disclosure, I’m a member). Many questions had to be asked at the CEC meeting, before it was clear that only one school of 456 seats will be built downtown vs. the two everyone expected after the release of the capital budget this November. The DOE needs to realize that parents understand budget shortfalls and resource limitations. Stating the obvious would have been upsetting, but honest. The DOE tried once again to pull the wool over our community’s eyes with double talk and misleading presentations implying that needs are being met. This wastes so much time and emotional energy. Next steps, get the word out to downtown parents that kindergarten wait lists are just going to get worse in the next 3 to 5 years unless more seats are built into the plan.


  2. Pingback: New Elementary School Coming to FiDi |

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