A wink and a nod?

By George Hunka

Downtown parents hoping that the de Blasio administration would take a new approach to alleviating overcrowding in their local public schools were disappointed to read a February 4 Tribeca Trib story by Carl Glassman, “New Administration’s School Building Plan Dashes Hopes for Lower Manhattan.”

“On Jan. 31, the Department of Education, under its new chancellor, Carmen Fariña, announced revisions to the Bloomberg administration’s plan that it says will go further, citywide, in easing classroom crowding and expanding pre-kindergarten seats. But hopes that additional downtown school seats would be included, beyond the 456 in the original capital plan, were dashed by this latest version,” Glassman wrote.

Paul Hovitz, co-chair of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee, said that he and other advocates believe that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may be able to persuade the DOE to once again revisit the plan. Silver has already written a letter to Fariña that requests a meeting with the chancellor and calls on the city to reconsider its allocation of new school seats below Canal Street. “I strongly urge that the DOE amend its capital plan so that we have 1,000 seats sited in this community,” he wrote.

This isn’t the first time that hopes have been dashed for a more comprehensive approach to schools covered by Community Board 1, Glassman notes:

The first version of the capital plan, which details how the city proposes to allocate funds for building and repairing schools over five years, had provided for a new 456-seat school below Canal Street. That was a shock to some Downtown school advocates who had expected nearly 1,000 seats within the area covered by Community Board 1, which has a northern boundary of Canal Street.

“We were all given a wink and a nod that those seats would be sited in Community Board 1,” Hovitz said.

Concerned parents are already planning a strategy to express their disappointment more forcefully to the DOE and the de Blasio administration. For more information, read the full Tribeca Trib story here.

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