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Chin, Parents Tell DOE New High School Plan is Misguided

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Last night, parents and other concerned residents crowded into a meeting room at University Neighborhood High School to speak out about a plan to move a second school into a century-old building on the Lower East Side.

Photo: Council member Chin's twitter feed.
Photo: Council member Chin’s twitter feed.

We were not able to attend, but City Council member Margaret Chin was there, and was pretty active on Twitter throughout the evening.  Yesterday, she sent along a statement reiterating her opposition to the Department of Education’s proposal:

(University Neighborhood High School’s) limited facilities cannot reasonably accommodate an additional student body without severe educational and social repercussions. Currently, the building has neither a gym, an auditorium, nor a cafeteria, and instead uses a school lobby for assemblies, physical education, and meal service. Originally built as an elementary school, the school’s hallways are narrow, the classrooms are not full-sized, and the entire building has only four bathrooms available for students.  University Neighborhood High School has excelled despite limited space and resources, and these latest plans to co-locate an additional high school within the building will disrupt years of steady and remarkable progress. It is a disservice to students who will not receive one-one-one instruction and adequate resources, and to teachers who will be stretched too thin to provide the specialized guidance students need.

The DOE intends to create an early college and technical education high school in the building. located at 200 Monroe St. There would be up to 85 students enrolled in 2014, and 510 a few years from now.  More than 300 kids currently attend University Neighborhood High School.  The DOE believes the building can accommodate 694 kids.  Last night’s meeting was a formality, a requirement of state law. The Panel for Educational Policy is almost certain to approve the plan October 15.

 UPDATE 12:43 P.M. In late September the DOE wrote to Council member Chin, defending its decision. See below for relevant excerpts:


…Please be aware that if this proposal is approved, the schools’ leadership teams will discuss and implement strategies to efficiently use space within the building to serve all students’ needs. Further, please note that in many of our buildings staggered schedules for student instruction in shared spaces have been implemented. The Building Council may choose to assign each school specific bathrooms on the floors/hallways of their classrooms and to share bathrooms on shared floors. The use of elevators will be coordinated by the schools’ leaders in order to accommodate any students requiring the use of the elevator in future years… We have hundreds of successful co-locations throughout the City and we are confident that both UNHS and the new district CTE/EC high school will be able to work together to make Building M446 an even more successful educational facility for the community… We are eager to bring opportunities like these to the City’s families and to connect students with early college educational options that will give them the opportunity to earn associate’s degrees free of charge… Thank you for writing to the Chancellor and for your continued advocacy on behalf of the City’s public school students.




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  1. I would like to understand more about your opinion as this comment is not clear to me.

    As someone who has , since late August, attended a press conference, an SLT meeting, a CEC meeting and this local hearing about the proposal in my capacity as CEC member, I am grateful to CM Chin’s support of the school community’s concerns.

    Everyone agrees the new school sounds like a great opportunity but that siting it in the woefully inadequate Seward Park Annex building (w/ no gym, auditorium or cafeteria; tight stairways, hallways and small classrooms; one science lab, a library funded by the city Council about to be constructed; and only 2 sets of bathrooms) will hurt both school communities.

    We have collectively asked the DoE to show us how the building will be shared over time and at capacity and there is no plan.The principals will have to work it out, DoE says.

    Well , the principals can not make it work if the proper space and facilities are not there.
    DoEs failure to plan is a plan to fail all the students and staff in both schools, and we appreciate CM Chin’s attempt to get DoE to provided much needed resources to UNHS rather than merely crowding out one school to shoehorn in a new one.

  2. Thanks much, RoBow for explaining your pov.
    Sadly no one can do anything more than advocate , reason, point to issues when it comes to these processes.
    The NYS legislature granted total control of our city schools to the mayor in 2002. In 2009 that control was renewed for another 7 years but w/ the addition of this phony local ‘hearing’ process/’educational impact’ statements made solely by DoE in a bill sponsored by Sen Squadron.
    The DoE does NOT measure impact. They say “our formulas ( which BTW are quite flawed) show there is room and we see no impact on anyone” in all cases.

    They do not listen to the public, although occasionally some local power brokers persuade them to drop a few out of the dozens of proposals they cook up several times a year.
    But usually they pass the unmodified proposals on to the rubber stamp Panel on Education Policy where the Mayor appoints 8/13 seats, guaranteeing its passage.
    regardless of the facts on the ground or the opposition of the folks affected.

    Sadly in this case BOTH schools – UNHS and the school-on-paper are both getting a bad deal. The black and Latino males the new school is targeting will be impacted by the lack of facilities in the building, but the school’s backers do not even know it. None of them even attended the hearing or have reached out to the community.
    I made several calls to try to connect but no one will get back to me, sadly

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