Education Panel to Vote on Three Harlem School Locations
By Jeff Mays
HARLEM— The Panel for Educational Policy will vote Thursday night on three Harlem school co-location plans.
One is a plan to temporarily place the Teacher's College Elementary School at P.S. 133 at Fifth Avenue and East 130th Street.
Another proposal would place a GED Plus program at Harlem Renaissance High School at 22 East 128th St. while the third would allow Harlem Success Academy 5 to add an additional grade at P.S. 123 Mahalia Jackson, located at 301 West 140th St.
Parents and teachers at Mahalia Jackson are concerned about the plan because they say it will take away valuable space. Area City Councilwoman Inez Dickens and District 5 Community Educational Council President Dianne Johnson have both come out against the proposal.
They say another Harlem Success Academy School was moved out of the building to allow the middle school to expand. And with the closure of other area middle schools, demand for admission to P.S. 123 could increase.
Some at the school also say that they received a revised educational impact statement hours before the April 13 hearing. Some parents there feel that the late arrival of the impact statement could be cause for a lawsuit.
The Department of Education said the revised statement was issued to correct errors and clarify plans for the school. Even if Harlem Success Academy is permitted to add another grade, the school would only be at 93 to 94 percent capacity.
The plan to temporarily place Teacher's College Elementary School at P.S. 133 Fred R. Moore, at Fifth Avenue and East 130th Street, has not faced as much resistance.
At a hearing earlier this month on the proposed change, less than 10 parents of the school's 300 kids showed up.
"You could count the number of parents on one hand," said P.S. 133 Parent Coordinator David Alleyne. "I thought this was an issue that might be worthy of parents' undivided attention, but that was not the case."
Anne Nelson, seargent at arms of the parent association, was at the hearing. Her grandson attends fourth grade at the school.
"I felt that more parents should have turned out because it's their children we are talking about, and their school," Nelson said.
Teacher's College Elementary is not a charter school. A joint venture between the Department of Education and Teachers College, it will serve students from Community School District 5.
The school was negotiated as a part of the community benefits agreement between Columbia University, which runs Teachers College, and the West Harlem community to compensate for the school's $6.3 billion, 17 acre expansion into Manhattanville.
Members of Community Board 9 said they will fight changes to the school that will now only serve K-5 students instead of K-8, and will accept applicants from just a portion of Community Board 9’s territory. Board members and parents were also upset that the school will be temporarily located at P.S. 133 in East Harlem.
Teacher's College said the DOE is in the process of negotiating for a building within the boundaries of CB 9 for a long-term site. If the school, which will add one grade per year, needs to remain at P.S. 133 longer than a year, it will require PEP approval.
The DOE says P.S. 133 has the capacity for 479 students but only has 304. Adding in the 40 to 50 kids from Teacher College Elementary inaugural kindergarten class would push the utilization rate to between 68 percent and 82 percent.
Alleyene said that over the last several years, the student population has dwindled to its current level of 300 students from approximately 500 students as parents have moved their kids to charter schools.
"We may have the space but I think its a great school as it is," said Nelson. "So of course I'm concerned."
The panel will meet at 6 p.m. tonight at Prospects Heights Campus located, 883 Classon Ave. in Brooklyn.