Sign the Petition

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Teachable Moment

Here's a great post from our friends at PS 191:

A Priceless Lesson

by NoRedvelopmentMMS
I have been telling this great story since June and today as I told it, I realized that this is why we teach...It wasn't something that was part of Common Core, you can't test for it, but we (not just me - but other teachers as well) taught one child a priceless lesson.  We can't put a value or grade on it because the potential of it is limitless....
When our school was recently offered up to developers.  We fought back.  Our school community joined together.  We joined a neighborhood coalition.  We got community volunteers.  We had a march, a rally, and participated in an educational forum.  We had students, parents, teachers, alumni, community members and politicians join us.  The next day we found out we won!  Our school will stand!
About two days later at dismissal a small child walked up to me, I think a Kindergartener.  She pulled on my shirt and when I looked down at her she said, "I helped save the school."  I told her she did and she walked away with the biggest smile.  I am not sure what exactly she has taken away with her, I do know that was the best lesson I never planned for.

Monday, July 1, 2013

DNAinfo Reports on Efforts to Stop the DOE proposal for CTE

DNAinfo reports on the protest that took place outside the High School for Cooperative Technology on Friday.

Politicians, students and teachers are calling for the Department of Education to drop plans to redevelop the School of Cooperative Technical Education on 96th Street between First and Second avenues because they say no one affected by the proposal was consulted.
Read the full article here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Elected Officials Come Our Against the ECF Proposal for CTE

The following elected officials wrote a letter to Chancellor Walcott and the heads of the ECF and SCA questioning the plans for the High School of Cooperative Technology:

Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan Borough President
Charles B. Rangel, Member of Congress, 13th District
Jose M. Serrano,  Senator, 29th District
Robert J. Rodriguez, Assemblymember, 68th District
Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member, District 8

The letter begins:

Dear Chancellor Walcott, Ms. Maldonado and Ms. Grillo:

We write to express our deep concern about a proposal currently under review by the Department
of Education (DOE), the Educational Construction Fund (ECF) and the School Construction
Authority (SCA), to redevelop the parcel of city-owned land occupied by the School of
Cooperative Technical Education (SCTE) at 321 East 96th Street. We urge you to immediately
halt this proposal, until such time as the DOE can constructively engage in a comprehensive
conversation with the local impacted community about impending redevelopment plans.

As you know, the School of Cooperative Technical Education is a District 79 school that has
spent more than a decade addressing the academic needs of over-age, under-credited youth from
across the five boroughs. The DOE and ECF’s redevelopment plans for the SCTE site, which
include demolition of the building, will very likely cause serious disruption in the academic lives
of some 2,000 students from across the five boroughs, including those with autism and other
special needs. Relocating SCTE’s students puts these youth at significant risk of discontinuing
and/or dropping out of school – a near-guarantee for poor long-term outcomes. How the DOE
intends to address these concerns is a matter of utmost importance.

The reality is that —whatever the pros and cons of this project may be – no one has been
provided the information necessary to make an informed judgment about the project, because the
DOE and ECF’s process of engaging the local community has been thoroughly inadequate and
lacking in transparency. As a result, students, families and teachers have been left largely in the
dark about the potential impact of any redevelopment proposal on their school and community.

Read the full letter here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Protests are Starting Against the DOE Proposal for the East Side School

From yesterday's Daily News:

Uptown parents, students and politicians are calling on the city to halt an under-the-radar proposal for private developers to knock out a school for luxury apartments. 
The Department of Education quietly floated the proposal earlier this year to demolish East Harlem’s High School of Cooperative Technical Education along with two upper West Side schools, to make room for high-rise apartment buildings that would house new schools underneath. 
The upper West Side locations averted demolition, but the city is still shopping the E. 96th St. vocational school to developers. 
Co-Op Tech students, parents and educators said they will demonstrate in front of the East Harlem school on Friday morning, joined byBorough President Scott Stringer, to call on the city to halt the project.

Read more:

Demonstrations will begin today at the High School of CTE outside the school on E. 96th between 1st and 2nd Ave at 10:30.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tax Breaks for the Wealthy = Less for Education

Michael Powell reports in the NY Times today how residential buildings that are not normally eligible for tax abatements get them.  The owner of a  $90 million apartment gets a tax break while education goes underfunded.
The latest evidence that our developers scour sidewalks for pennies might be found at the 90-story ziggurat known as One57, with his-and-her bathrooms, super deep freeze, titanium-reinforced views that reach to the Arctic, or at least Putnam County. The Extell Development Company recently sold a 14,000-square-foot penthouse (but does it have enough closets?) to a hedge-fund billionaire for $90 million. Bargain flats are still to be found at $18 million.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Discuss Land Use Issues (like PS 199) with City Council Candidates June 27th

Read the New York Times article on real estate influence in the race.

CB7 Meeting with E3 Charter Middle School Presentation and Beacon Building Working Group Update

Info on the Proposed E3 Charter Middle School and Beacon Working Group 
At CB7's Youth, Education & Libraries Committee
Thursday, June 20th 6:30
250 West 87th Street

Tatiana Hoover and Claire Lowenstein will present on their proposal to establish the E3 Charter Middle School in District 3.  You can learn more about this proposed charter in a recent
DNAinfo article.  According to the article, the school is evaluating space on West 64th and 61st streets.  

The meeting will also include updates and ongoing issues regarding the Beacon Building Working Group. Now that Beacon need not be utilized as a temporary space for a building demolition, the UWS can concentrate on its use for a district 3 public middle and/ or high school.

more info...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

JCC City Council Candidate Forum on Education

If you were not able to attend last nights forum, you can listen to it here:

Brooklyn's Pacific Branch Library - Saved!

Congratulations to Citizens Defending Libraries on saving the beautiful Beaux-Arts library.  Many of our libraries, like our schools, are under threat.  CDL is doing a heroic job of raising awareness and defending public libraries throughout the city.

You can read the New York Times article here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thank You for This Great Victory

Hi All -

I want to personally thank all of you who stepped up to help in various ways.  I won't name you but you know who you are:  the folks who sometimes braved insults handing out flyers,  the folks who collected petition signatures, those of you who drummed up support from neighborhoods and friends, those who attended community meetings,  those who participated in the Lincoln Square Community Coalition, those who spoke up at building board meetings and lobby meetings and especially those who stood  up to challenge the "wait and see" approach of the P.S. 199 PTA.  

I will mention some people by name:

Roberta Semer who lives in Lincoln Towers, called the first meeting with elected officials in early March, got the ball rolling for us as a community, had the idea for LSCC and has worked with me every step of the way.

Melanie Brazil who stepped up to rally those parents at P.S. 199 who wanted to save their school and wanted to speak up now.

Stacie Loraine and Susannah Blum who organized the P.S. 191 community.  They were amazing and passionate, and the P.S. 191 community was critical in getting the DOE to recognize that the UWS was united in opposition.

I also want to mention how supportive City Council Member Gale Brewer and State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal have been.

Gale pushed the DOE to tell us what their plans were going to be, asked for more transparency and public review, and pushed them to make a decision before the end of the school year.  She has also been pushing for P.S. 199 landmark status, has attended our meetings and spoken strongly and publicly against the ECF proposal.

Linda has been one of our strongest advocates, writing letters and introducing legislation - which we will continue to fight for - to prevent this type of proposal without public review happening again.  Linda made her staff available to us, they helped us strategize and plan our march, rally and last week's amazing forum.  They did robo calls (first one I ever liked!), handed out flyers and really got the word out about the forum.

I also want to acknowledge that Laurie Frey and Noah Gotbaum of CEC3 were particularly strong supporters as was Mel Wymore of Community Board 7.

Also, Batya Lewton and The Coalition for a Livable West SIde, The United Federation of Teachers, Olive Freud who made sure that the issue was raised at all her candidate events and anyone else whom I forgot!

A very big thank you to all of you.

This is real proof that a community can come together, speak up and affect change. 

Best Regards,
David Saphier and the team.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More Victory Press

NY 1 coverage is here.

A New York Times article which credits the West Side Rag with breaking the story.

Curbed is impressed that "a blog-slash-petition and some political support" does work!!

WNYC School Book covers the decision here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Victory Message From Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal

Victory: Upper West Side Successfully Fights off DOE Redevelopment of Our Public Schools

In a victory for Upper West Side schools, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) bowed to community pressure and has announced that it will not move forward with plans for redevelopment at Manhattan P.S. 191 and Manhattan P.S. 199. I am gratified that DOE came to realize that trying to force a project of this magnitude without any public process on the Upper West Side will always be met with a wall of united opposition.

The DOE first proposed to demolish these schools and the School of Cooperative Technical Education on the Upper East Side with an advertisement to developers in a November 2012 issue of Crain's. The DOE would have leased the land to a private developer who would demolish the schools and build luxury housing with a school at the base. Make no mistake about it: this plan was never about education or providing seats for our children--it was conceived as a giveaway to developers. The DOE did not notify anyone in the targeted communities of its intentions and, even after a community outcry, gave just one presentation in February which provided little useful information.

On the Upper West Side, we refuse to stand for the City playing games with our public schools, and I wrote to the DOE to express my disgust with its refusal to engage the community and let parents have a say in its decision on whether to redevelop any of the schools. I also sent DOE a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for answers to many of the questions it left unanswered  and worked with the affected communities of both schools to organize informational meetings and rallies. The marvelous collaboration with community leaders and  area elected officials culminated last night in a rally and forum attended by hundreds of parents, teachers, children and community members who made their voices heard and said no to redevelopment.

This victory, coming on the heel's of last night's public meeting, would never have been possible without the thousands of Upper West Siders who signed petitions, wrote letters, demonstrated and organized. I especially want to thank the following groups and fellow elected officials for their efforts and advocacy:

Coalition to Save Our Schools
Museum Magnet School / Manhattan P.S. 191 Redevelopment Committee
United Federation of Teachers
Lincoln Square Community Coalition
Amsterdam Houses Residents Association
Coalition for a Livable West Side
New York Communities for Change
Congressman Jerrold Nadler
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer
State Senator Brad M. Hoylman
State Senator José M. Serrano
State Senator Adriano Espaillat
City Councilmember Gale A. Brewer

However, DOE will unfortunately continue pursuing its secretive redevelopment process at the School of Cooperative Technical Education at 321 East 96th Street. I was told that DOE will release a Request for Proposals, but it does not have a firm timeline for doing so. Targeting the school whose students are most geographically dispersed and less organized does not make DOE's agenda any more palatable. If the East Side community opposes this development, I am sure we will work together to save their school.

I want to again congratulate the Upper West Side on showing the City that we have had enough of backroom deals and secret plans. The students of P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 can go on summer vacation knowing that they will have a school to return to in the fall!

Linda B. Rosenthal
Member of Assembly - 67 AD


Will report more when we know it.  This is great news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

West Side Rag reports on the news here.

Save Our Schools Forum - AMAZING!

We had an amazing meeting last night.  Braving the rain, 200+ people showed up; a standing room only crowd to mostly speaking out against the DOE's proposal to demolish and rebuild P.S. 191, P.S. 199 and CTE.

Children from P.S. 191 sang, some spoke about their great school,  David Bloomfield spoke about how disruptive and damaging this would be to the kids and about our legal options.

Gale Brewer, Linda Rosenthal and Scott Stringer were all there and spoke as did many parents, students and members of our community.

We know that the DOE is listening!  Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

JCC Forum for City Council Candidates

City Council Candidates will speak on Youth and Education

Another good opportunity to quiz the CC candidates on their views concerning PS 199 and PS 191.

June 18th at the JCC
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Details can be found here:

RSVP is required.

Gale Brewer Writes Letter to DOE Requesting Timely Decision

Click on the image to enlarge or view the PDF here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

DNAinfo Reports: P.S. 199 Parents Break From PTA to Fight Redevelopment at UWS School

DNAinfo reports today on the movement by PS 199 parents against the proposed demolition of the school:

"A group of parents at P.S. 199 is breaking from their PTA to fight against the Department of Education's proposed demolition of their school.  
More than 200 supporters have signed a petition against the DOE's plan, which would give a developer the right to knock down and rebuild the school and develop a high rise
on top of it."

Read the full article here. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Op-Ed Piece: Coveting Public School Land Leads to a Bad Deal

An Op-Ed piece by Mel Wymore in WNYC SchoolBook (a site created by the NYTimes and WNYC).

Here's one excerpt:

In the case of P.S. 191 on West 61st Street and P.S. 199 on West 70th Street, the ECF requested “expressions of interest” to demolish and redevelop these public schools, offering what amounts to a goody-bag of tax perks for the developers involved. Simply put, it’s a sweetheart deal designed to attract builders of luxury towers, with schools on the lower floors, not one designed to serve our kids, our community or New York City.

Read the full piece here. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Coalition to Save Our Schools Public Hearing

We are one of the sponsors of this very important event. Please come to listen, speak and let the DOE know how you feel about their proposal. Please print, distribute an post this flyer.  You can download it here. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

March and Rally this Friday, June 7th!!! - CANCELED - due to weather

The weather forecast has turned for the worse - potential thunder and lightening, therefore, todays rally is CANCELED.

The Save our Schools Coalition is organizing a march and rally in opposition to the DOE demolition plan for all three schools.  Please join us in joining them this Friday, June 7th at 3:30.  The march will begin at PS 191, 61st and Amsterdam and end at Columbus Circle where speakers will be heard with maybe a special guest speaker.

Approximate timing for the march:

3:35pm - Leaving PS191 at 61st & Amsterdam

3:40pm - Pass Lincoln Center plaza (fountain area)

4:00pm - Arrive at Columbus Circle.  Rally will be in the center by the monument.

Please join us at any of these locations.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

CANCELLED EVENT - Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions about Schools and Education

We have heard that this event is CANCELLED.

2013 Mayoral Candidate Forum: Come hear the 2013 NYC mayoral candidates' visions for New York City’s public schools at a forum organized by the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council (parent body, not DOE).  This will take place on Monday, June 10th from 6pm - 8pm at the New York Historical Society Auditorium (170 Central Park West at 77th Street). Send your questions in advance to

Friday, May 31, 2013

Follow the Money in City Council Race

An article in the New York Times today exposes a new PAC, Jobs for New York, which is attempting to influence the City Council elections.  

"A group of real estate executives and corporate leaders, bracing for the departure of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, plans to spend up to $10 million to make sure the City Council elected this fall is friendly to business. 
The organization, made up of real estate developers, property owners, banks, insurance companies, investment firms and others, has established a political action committee to direct donations to back candidates in both parties who support pro-development policies. 
Called Jobs for New York, the PAC represents an aggressive new involvement in New York’s heavily regulated city elections by a major independent expenditure group."

We are not endorsing any particular candidate for District 6, but we do think it's important to know if any of the candidates are being backed by organizations that want to promote further development of our neighborhood.  If would not be surprising if these same interested parties are backing the DOE proposal to build luxury high-rises above three schools in Manhattan.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

High School of Cooperative Technical Education - the other school.

Coop Tech is the third school mentioned in the ECF proposal other than PS 199 and PS 191.  I was able to visit this school yesterday and it is amazing.  This is a school for students not on a college track but for those who want to learn a skill and get out into the workforce.  A large portion of the school is essentially a factory for learning where welding, carpentry, electrician skills, green energy, automotive mechanics - 17 separate programs in all are taught.  Once students complete their course work the school has an active internship and job placement program.

I looked at this school and could not image how 1) it could possibly be moved on a temporary basis because of all the equipment and specialized set up, and 2) how it could exist with a luxury high-rise atop it.  If this school is chosen for demolition and re-development I'd like to hear from the DOE how they will preserve it and put it back together again.

But, the impression I really walked away with is that the city needs another 10 schools like this one.  For any kid not on a college track, what is better, more standardized testing or training for a real job?

You can check out their brochure here.

PS 199 Parents Speak Up!

A group of PS 199 parents posted a petition yesterday expressing their opposition to the proposed demolition and re-development plan for PS 199.  I can only assume that this is also a sign of their frustration with the wait and see attitude of others at the school.  In less than 24 hours they have amassed 174 signatures from parents.  This is amazing.

If you are a PS 199 parent and have not signed yet, check out the petition here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

United Federation of Teachers Article and Letter

We originally posted on the United Federation of Teachers article about the proposed demolition of the schools here.

Subsequently, they published our Letter to the Editor:

Parents oppose selling schools
MAY 16, 2013 NEW YORK TEACHER ISSUETo the Editor:
Thanks for your article “Schools for sale” [May 2]. The city and Department of Education are pursuing actions that are disruptive to students and parents, and expensive to the city in the long term, while providing little to no upside for increasing the quality or quantity of educational resources in the affected neighborhoods.

Read the full letter here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Time Clock

Our district needs more elementary and middle school seats, and a dedicated District 3 high school.  These goals can be better achieved through the creation of new schools instead of rebuilding existing schools. Rebuilding schools would have negative impacts, including moving students to temporary schools, closing playgrounds, increasing the density of our neighborhood, increasing demand for student seats, and potentially losing an architecturally significant building (PS 199.)   We have previously outlined how this advertised Offering Memorandum / RFEI proposes a school that is at best marginally bigger than the existing school (we estimate 12 additional students for PS 199), with much of the space underground.

We have posted a time clock on the right column of this site.  This shows the amount of time that has passed since the DOE announced their proposal to demolish and re-develop three possible schools in the city on October 29, 2012. Today is the 200th day.

Below is the original announcement as it appeared in Crain's.  Notice that it is not presented as a first, preliminary step.  It is presented as, "The Offering Memorandum."  Further, on the back page of the supporting document (RFEI) it states, "CBRE is pleased to invite you to participate in the bidding for this premier investment opportunity."  To us, that does not read like a first step.  It reads like a request for serious offers for the property(s).

We see no downside in asking the DOE to engage with the community now.  Why wait?  What's the downside of standing up and speaking now?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

CB7 Beacon School Public Hearing

We attended the meeting tonight.  Based on the people, mostly parents, who spoke, there was near unanimous support for Beacon being re-purposed as a new middle school or a combined middle school / district 3 high school. This is something we can support: the creation of a new school for the district.  Every seat in a new school in the Beacon building will be an additional seat for the district - as opposed to the ECF/DOE proposal for PS 199 and PS 191 which, at best, creates marginally more seats and certainly no new middle school based on the proposal. Moreover, if the DOE moves forward with the demolition of PS 199 and/or PS 191, and Beacon is the space used for the temporary location of a school (which from what we've heard is the most likely outcome), then that decision will delay by years a new middle school for the district.

Big question:  Why is the DOE asking for public input about Beacon and at the same time proposing to demolish PS 191 and/or PS 199, which may require the use of Beacon?

Here is a summary of the meeting from the No to Redevelopment site.

Here the report in DNAinfo.

Press Coverage of the CEC3 Meeting

The CEC 3 meeting about the fate of PS 199 and PS 191 was covered by both The West Side Rag and DNAinfo.  Read the The West Side Rag coverage here.

The DNAinfo article was controversial.  Check out the comments.  It can be read here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wait and See or Wait and Let the City Do Whatever it Wants: A Note from the CEC3 Meeting

The PS 191 community - parents, neighbors and school administration are solidly opposed to the ECF proposal and they are speaking up about it.  PS 199 community residents are very much opposed to the proposal, the parents from what we hear are split, the PTA leadership is taking a wait and see approach.

One PS 199 parent spoke last night in favor of the proposal saying that she hoped to get a new middle school.  We hear this a lot from parents who are following the lead of the PTA. That is certainly a much needed  resource in our community.  However, being silent about it, taking a wait and see attitude, allowing the ECF/DOE/City to think that you have no objections to the current proposal is not going to get them to do anything about a middle school.

The question we posed last night to those who are waiting and seeing is:  what is the downside to speaking up now?  No one answered this directly. And, to the contrary, elected officials who spoke last night said waiting for an RFP or whatever the next step will be is too late.

If you don't ask for what you want you're not going to get it!  The good and right thing does not just happen when money and politics are involved.  The good and right thing happens when people speak up and demand what they want from their elected officials.

Bottom line: The needs of the community can be solved with less disruption, less impact on infrastructure, less destruction of treasured property, less dissipation of the public trust through the unwarranted sale of public assets - if the ECF/DOE/City focuses on building new schools instead of tearing down and rebuilding existing schools.

Meeting about the Future of Beacon High School

Will Beacon be a temporary location if PS 191 or PS 199 are demolished and redeveloped?  Will Beacon become a new middle school?

Summary of CEC3 Meeting from the PS 191 No Redevelopment Site

Where is the transparency?

by NoRedvelopmentMMS
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.

NoRedvelopmentMMS | May 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What does the CEC 3 Do?

We've been promoting the upcoming CEC3 meeting.  Many people are not familiar with the CEC so here is a description from their web site:


     CEC3 is one of the 32 Community Education Councils (CECs) in New York City. CEC3 represents Community School District 3 which includes public elementary and middle schools. CEC 3 holds monthly meetings, and contributes to shaping educational policy in District 3.  
     CEC3's responsibilities are established by state law and implemented through regulations of the Chancellor. These responsibilities include: approving school zoning lines, holding hearings on the capital plan, evaluating community superintendents, and providing input on other important policy issues.
     Community Education Council members are selected for two-year terms by the Parent Associations or Parent Teacher Associations (PA/PTAs) of the schools in their district. Each CEC has 12 members, including nine parents selected by the district's PA/PTAs, two members appointed by the Borough President, and one student selected by the Community Superintendent.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

United Federation of Teachers reports on Schools for Sale

From the UFT New York Teacher Issue:
The offer sounded like a typical enticement to developers by a property owner eager to cash in. 
The owner “is pleased to offer for your consideration three prime development sites” in Manhattan that present “truly special opportunities” to build luxury high-rises of “significant height and tremendous views.” 
But nothing about this appeal was typical. 
The three sites proposed for redevelopment are public schools that together serve about 2,300 students: PS 191 and PS 199 on the Upper West Side, and the School of Cooperative Technical Education (Co-op Tech HS) on the Upper East Side.

The article mentions that some P.S. 199 parents are hoping for a new middle school:

PS 199’s parent association hasn’t taken a position yet, although some parents say they may consider the proposal if the new school includes a middle school, which the neighborhood desperately needs.
Yet, we've demonstrated, which you can read here, that with the existing proposal this is not possible.  Additionally, the PTA co-president, Eric Shuffler is also quoted expressing concern that the proposed school may not be able to accomodate any more students  than the existing school.

“Some parents have said that it seems stupid to do this just to rebuild a school,” said Eric Shuffler, PTA co-president at PS 199. “They’ve asked, what’s the point to even have a conversation about this if we end up with the same number of seats?”
And the lack of transparency from the DOE is glaring:

Parents and educators have more questions than answers. Where and for how long would students and staff be relocated as one school is torn down and a high-rise is built? What kind of amenities would they have to do without while they are relocated? In deals clearly aimed at unlocking development dollars, would the affected school receive some of the money generated? Will the community have a real say in what gets built?
 Read the Full Article here.

Friday, May 3, 2013

P.S. 191 is also Fighting Redevelopment Plans

Teachers at P.S. 191/MMS have launched a web site and a petition to fight the DOE and ECB over the redevelopment of their school.  Just like P.S. 199, the RFEI released by the ECF is calling for the demolition of the existing school and replacing it with a new school and luxury high-rise.

Go visit their site and support their efforts.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Meet the Candidates for Manhattan Borough President

This is a great opportunity to question the candidates about issues important to our neighborhood like the potential demolition of P.S. 199.

Monday, May 13, 2013, 7 PM
Council House
241 West 72nd Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue)

Manhattan Borough President Candidates

Gale Brewer
Jessica Lappin
Robert Jackson
Julie Menie

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Could Beacon HS be the Temp Site for P.S. 199 or P.S. 191?

New York Press reports on CB7's Youth, Education and Libraries Committee meeting from last week.

The committee also discussed the Beacon Building Working Group, which was formed in March to deal with future plans for what will be a vacant space when the Beacon School relocates. Beacon High School will be moving from their current location on West 61st Street to a new spot on West 44th Street in the autumn of 2015. Mark Diller, who chairs the Beacon Building Working Group, addressed concerns in the community that the organization would simply serve as a rubber stamp to approve Beacon as an interim space for P.S. 199 (270 W. 70th St.) or P.S. 191 (210 W. 61st St.), both sites that Department Of Education (DOE) has shown interest in reconstructing.

Read the Full Article. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

NYC Mayoral Education Debate this Thursday

A forum on the future of public education in NYC with Democratic primary mayoral candidates. Moderated by
Diane Ravitch
Thursday May 2nd
5:30-7:00 pm
PS 29 (425 Henry Street, Brooklyn)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Funding Public Services Through Real Estate Development

Listen to a recent segment on the Brian Lehrer show.  It's doesn't talk about the school but it does address the basic issues of selling public land.

Julia Vitullo-Martin, director of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Regional Plan Association and Tom Angotti, director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and development, discuss the tactic of funding public housing projects, libraries, schools and post offices through developing real estate.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our Guest Post in Vanishing New York

Vanishing New York is a fantastic blog dedicated to writing about the wonderful sites and neighborhoods in NYC that are disappearing.  Please read our guest post and look through the site.

Here's an excerpt from our post:

The Lincoln Square community has undergone major upheaval over the past few years, with the building of countless high rises, including the Trump Buildings on Riverside Boulevard, all of which have significantly changed the neighborhood from a close-knit, family-friendly community to something very different, a place unaffordable to many. These real-estate developments have also disrupted long-established school catchments and contributed to major overcrowding in schools. As a result, many children are forced to sit on waiting lists for their local public schools.

Read the Entire Post Here. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New York Times Article on City Selling Public Land

More about the City grabbing public land for private development.  This recent New York Times article is about displacing a local community center for a luxury high-rise.

The center has been here in East Harlem, amid public-housing towers that are home to about 3,480 residents, for more than 55 years. Most of the programming comes through the Union Settlement Association: after-school, summer, tutoring, arts, college prep, job readiness, fatherhood, re-entry, teen night, mental health and life skills.
Six days a week, the center draws people from as far as Staten Island. But lately there has been fear in the neighborhood, inspired by a plan of the New York City Housing Authority to raze the building housing the center for private residential development.

Read the Full Article. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

NYTs Op-Ed Piece on Midtown East Development - Some Simularities

A piece penned by Robert A.M. Stern questioning Bloomberg's push to redevelop Midtown East without proper foresight and planning, similar to how the push is being made to develop the PS 199 site and other school sites in the city.  Some highlights:

Protecting the integrity of the area:

Are we preparing to make the same mistake again, on multiple sites? The rezoning study makes no mention of protected-view corridors. Can we guarantee that in the future the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building will not be lost in thickets of taller buildings?
Planning backwards, infrastructure should come first:

And what of our streets and subway platforms? I commute through Grand Central several times a week, and at 6:20 a.m., when I catch my train to New Haven, the terminal is already full of people. When I return at 6:30 or 7 p.m., I can hardly make my way to the stairways and escalators that lead to the Lexington Avenue subway platforms.
How will the added workers quartered in these new buildings get from their trains to their desks? The plan says that special assessments and payments in lieu of taxes will guarantee “pedestrian network improvements as development occurs.” There is nothing wrong with privately financed infrastructure improvements. But the study, if I read it correctly, gets it backward: first you put in the infrastructure, then you build the buildings. Look at the example of Grand Central, the private enterprise that spurred all this development in the first place.

Read the full piece here. Article about plans for the Beacon HS Building has an article about plans for the Beacon High School building.  A new Beacon High School is being built and the DOE is working on plans for the old building.

One possibility mentioned in the article:
But the planned walk-through, which does not yet have a scheduled date, has sparked concerns that the Department of Education may be eyeing the Beacon building as a new home for P.S. 191, if the city goes forward with its proposal to tear down both P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 and replace them with privately developed high-rises.
Promises have been made concerning the process for PS 191 and PS 199 but as far as we know nothing  has been put into writing:
In response to parents' concerns about the proposed demolition of P.S. 191 and P.S. 199, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott committed at a recent town hall meeting to get more feedback from residents before moving forward with the plans. Walcott assured anxious parents that the DOE's Educational Construction Fund, the arm that proposed the two school sites for private redevelopment, was not on the verge of issuing a request for development proposals, said Shuffler, who attended the town hall."[Walcott] did state very clearly that he would allow community input before the RFPs went out," added Maack, who also attended the meeting.

Read more:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Support CDL and Help Save NYC Libraries

I've posted before about how the PS 199 issue is just one piece of a large effort by the City to sell off public land.  

An organization called Citizens Defending Libraries has been formed to fight the City on the closing and selling of libraries throughout NYC.

Library Protection Week has already brought the issue of the sell off and shrinkage of libraries to thousands of New Yorkers who knew nothing about it.  Come to the big event tomorrow at City Hall Park, where our City Comptroller John Liu will speak, 

Thursday, April 18th
12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. 
Steps of City Hall at Broadway and Chambers Streets, downtown Manhattan. 

Arrive early to get through security.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meet the Mayoral Candidates this Thursday

Community Free Democrats &
Goddard Riverside Community Center 


Thursday, April 18th, 8:00 p.m.
Goddard Riverside Community Center
593 Columbus Ave @ West 88th Street

Hear from the candidates in their own words about their vision for our city and what problems they will tackle on behalf of all New Yorkers.  

Sal Albanese
Bill de Blasio
John Liu
Christine Quinn
Bill Thompson
Moderated by Dr. Ken Sherrill, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Hunter College
No RSVP required; the meeting is free and open to all!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Coverage in the New York Observer

Preservationists Agitate to Save Durell Stone-Designed PS 199 From Demolition

By Kim Velsey 

Ever since the Department of Education posted a Request for Expressions of Interest in three public school sites late this fall—seeking proposals for three “prime development sites” that included PS 199 on West 70th Street—the local community has risen up in protest.
As with other such sites, it’s almost certain that no matter what developer the city selects, the plan will involve a luxury condo tower on the 99,000 square-foot site with a replacement school on the tower’s lower levels.
And while DOE has not yet made any final decisions about the site, the possibility that the school might be razed has not only angered the contingent of parents and teachers that one would expect to be riled by such an announcement, but also preservationists, who are now mobilizing to protest the destruction of the 1963 building, designed by the noted modernist architect Edward Durell Stone.

Go to Full Article

Help Landmark PS 199

Landmark West is work hard to save PS 199.  You can help by following the easy steps to send a postcard to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee.

Click here to send an email "postcard" to Hon. Robert Tierney, Chair of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC) and urge the LPC to hold an emergency public hearing to designate P.S. 199 an official NYC Landmark.
It is especially urgent that Commission act now to save P.S. 199. Designed by internationally-acclaimed architect Edward Durell Stone in 1963, P.S. 199 is currently threatened with demolition by the Department of Education Construction Fund. Read coverage of this issue in the New York TimesWest Side RagThe Daily News and DNAInfo.