P.S. 51 Finds New Home on the Upper East Side
By Meredith Hoffman
HELL'S KITCHEN - After months of vocal relocation requests, children at construction-plagued P.S. 51 will finally get a new home - on the Upper East Side.
For the past two months, construction on a new school building and housing complex has consumed the block surrounding P.S. 51 at 520 W. 45th Street, causing health concerns for students and teachers.
Last week the community learned that officials were planning to relocate students to two different schools, the Clinton School and P.S. 11, sparking a round of protests, as first reported by DNAinfo.
But on Thursday, Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that P.S. 51 will be moved as a whole to Our Lady of Good Counsel on East 91st Street, a former Catholic school building owned by the Archdiocese.
The building currently houses P.S. 151, which is moving into a permanent home in the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching, at 421 E. 88th St.
Relieved parents learned of the school's new home at a PTA meeting hours earlier.
"This is a victory!" said Tosh Anderson, a parent representative who's been working for relocation. "This is what parents can accomplish when they come together. When we were told there was no money, no space, no room to relocate, we finally got the city and Christine Quinn to do what they need to help our community."
Principal Nancy Sing-Bock presented the new relocation proposal during the meeting, attended by about 50 parents, according to Anderson.
"The main concern is the distance [from the current neighborhood]," said Anderson, adding that the children would be bused to and from school each day. Our Lady of Good Counsel is more than five miles away.
Despite that, Anderson said of the move: "At this juncture it's the best possibility. People are very excited."
Tamara Flannagan, who has contemplated transferring her son from P.S. 51, said she no longer feels in a "lose-lose situation."
"The principal and several others did a walk-through [at Our Lady of Good Counsel] today and said it was really nice - far, but nice," she said. "The general feeling is that moving together anywhere is better than where we are, and it's better than being split up."
But Anderson maintained that P.S. 51's victory was indeed a temporary one, because the school would return to a block of construction, including the luxury housing project by Gotham in two years.
"The community will need to follow the story and the development of Gotham construction, so they complete the majority of their building before the students return to their new school," said Anderson. "We just need to keep up pressure."