Late in the day yesterday, the Department of Education signaled its intention to allow the Girls Prep Middle School to expand in a building it shares on East Houston Street with two other schools. Several weeks ago, the DOE released a number of possible scenarios to accommodate the charter school's desire to add 6, 7 and 8th grade classes. The proposals touched off a district-wide controversy, pitting Lower East Side parents against one another. Now, the Education Department has settled on a plan that will allow Girls Prep to stay put and to eventually take over 12 more classrooms.
According to a state-mandated document known as an Educational Impact Statement, no students will be displaced." During this fall's contentious debates, parents from Girls Prep's co-tenants, P.S. 188 and P.S. 94, complained loudly that the expansion would exact a heavy toll on their kids, forcing the elimination of a wide variety of extracurricular, counseling and special education programs.
But the DOE has argued that Girls Prep will only be taking over "under-utilized space." According to the document released yesterday, space will be created through graduation of current students (of P.S. 94) over the next several years, thereby reducing the total number of sections from nine to five with corresponding declines in student enrollment and space need."
Written comments about the proposal can be sent to: D01Proposals@schools.nyc.gov.
Parents will also have a chance to offer feedback at a public hearing. The time and place have not yet been announced. District 1's Community Education Council is expected to formulate a response to the plan in the next several days. Last month, they passed a resolution calling on the DOE to reject the Girls Prep request, in part, because all of the proposed scenarios would penalize other District 1 students.