At tonight’s CEC (Community District Education Council) 3 meeting for the Overcrowding, Charter Schools, & Space Utilization Committee, David Saphier said something very important we believe…
This is a community effort, not one school against the other.
We respect our sister school’s, PS 199, position of waiting for more information. We do not oppose that for them. And we are sure they respect our stance as well. Our schools have a long history together. Many years ago, well over 30, PS 191 was the K-2 school and PS 199 was the 3-6 school. As our community grew around us, the schools changed to accommodate the needs of those around us. Our school MMS/PS 191 is a Pre-K – 8th grade school. In fact we often serve many Pre-K students that will eventually move to PS 199’s Kindergarten. PS 199 is now a K-5 school. It once held a Middle School, but overcrowding caused another change. This is one point that drives our opposition.
It was mentioned several times at the meeting by various people, including our Council Member Gale Brewer, we need more seats available for our elementary students now and for the future. We need more Middle Schools and High Schools too. Our position is that we need more schools, not rebuilt schools. Despite the RFEI (Request for Expression of Interest) appearing to have more space for each school, it is very deceptive. The RFEI sq ft (this can bee seen in our unpacking of the RFEI in a previous post) only takes into account the current floors of each school that is above ground. It clearly says the sq ft in the basement is unknown. So the increase is unknown. All schools still need their basement facilities. Where else are you going to put all of the supplies, custodial materials, etc. Our school has two classrooms that are technically at basement level. Did they count those?
Several important points were made at the CEC meeting concerning this. The first is the impact of the population that will be coming from the new building. The schools will be filled before they are even reopened in their original space. The next point made was that when the ECF (Educational Construction Authority) has replaced an existing school, the model was not successful. When they try this and put in a brand new school, then they are successful. Just check out the evidence, look up PS 59 on the East Side. History shows this will be a bad idea for our school.
Everyone at the meeting agreed that this RFEI is poorly constructed. There are so many problems with it. Despite the discussions about ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) being involved, the RFEI says it is not required if the project is As-Of-Right. They will not get involved, unless there is a special permit. This is basically reiterated in the letter to Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal from Ben Goodman, Manhattan Borough Director of the DOE. The same is said in a letter to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer from The NYC DOE Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm. Please see the attached letter. However, several people at the meeting commented that by the time this gets to ULURP, that there is not much left that could be done. URLUP was accused of being a rubber stamp to proposals. A concern that was mentioned during the meeting was would a RFP (Request for Proposal) follow. This is usual but this RFEI is not usual.
Several of our elected officials have written letters to the DOE and ECF asking for more information. The response has been and can be seen again in the letters to the Hon. Linda B. Rosenthal and to the Hon. Scott Stringer, that they do not have any new information. They are still waiting to see the proposals. The DOE declined the invitation to attend tonight meeting.
We thank Gale Brewer, Linda Rosenthal, and Brad Holyman for sending representatives that are supporting our efforts to stop the redevelopment for our school. We appeal to Scott Stringer to help us now and not wait to see which community will be affected. We need his support now. We also appeal to the DOE and ECF to be more transparent and give us more information.