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Community Activists Help Create Vision For a New Lower East Side School

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This past weekend, parents, teachers and local activists gathered at the Girl’s Club on Avenue D for a day-long “Community Engagement Lab.”  Sponsored by Community Education Council 1 in partnership with NYCpublic, the event was designed to help create a vision for a new school on the Lower East Side.  Throughout the day, participants talked about what’s working and what’s not working in the neighborhood’s public schools and came up with some priorities for the future.

As you may know, Community Board 3 and local elected officials are advocating for a new school within the Essex Crossing development project. A parcel has been set aside on Grand Street, but so far the city’s Department of Education has maintained that there’s no need for a new elementary or middle school in the neighborhood.

school workshop visuals

At a recent meeting of CB3’s education committee, board members reviewed preliminary demographic information.  This data, along with conclusions from the visioning workshop and other research will go into a “white paper” the community board plans to deliver to the DOE later this year.   The School Construction Authority makes its decisions about where to devote limited resources largely based on population statistics and projections.  In the past, the DOE has been sharply criticized for misjudging the need for new facilities.  Part of CB3’s argument will detail the impact on the public schools of several large-scale development projects.  Essex Crossing will add 1000 apartments to the LES.  Other developments, including a massive tower planned on the former Cherry Street Pathmark site, will add many more apartments.

Among those sitting in on the final presentations at this past weekend’s meeting was Gale Brewer, the new Manhattan Borough President. The community board is determined to make its case now, since there’s a new mayoral administration and a news schools chancellor, who may very well be more receptive to their pleas.

We’re working on a comprehensive story on the campaign for a school as part of the Seward Park project.  Look for that in the next few weeks.


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