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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