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School Rezoning Plan Would Eliminate Village, SoHo Parents' Choice

By Andrea Swalec | October 7, 2011 8:16am
The blue area in this Department of Education diagram represents District 2's current boundaries. The yellow lines indicate the proposed rezoning.
The blue area in this Department of Education diagram represents District 2's current boundaries. The yellow lines indicate the proposed rezoning.
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Department of Education

MANHATTAN — A city proposal to reshape the school zones that cover the Village and SoHo would eliminate families' unique option to choose between two elementary schools.

Families in the area roughly bound by 15th Street to the north, Fourth Avenue and Greene Street to the east, Canal Street to the south and the Hudson River to the west can currently choose whether to send their children to P.S. 3 or P.S. 41.

This represents the only area in the city where families have two public elementary schools to choose from.

But changes proposed by the Department of Education would direct children in SoHo, Hudson Square and the West Village to P.S. 3. at 490 Hudson St.

Additionally, children in Greenwich Village, roughly east of Seventh Avenue, would be directed to P.S. 41 at 116 W. 11th St.

Also under the proposed changes, the new public elementary school for families in the Meatpacking District, north of Bethune Street, would be P.S. 11 in Chelsea, at 320 W. 21st St.

The DOE has recommended the rezoning because new capacity at P.S. 3 and P.S. 11 became available when middle schools moved out of those locations, according to rezoning documents.

P.S. 3 has 797 students, which slightly exceeds its 787-student capacity, according to the DOE. P.S. 41 has 780 students, which exceeds its 661-student capacity by 18 percent.

Pending approval by the District 2 Community Education Council, the changes would take effect in the 2012-13 school year, and would only affect incoming kindergarteners and new students.

Families who already have children in a District 2 elementary school would be able to send their younger children to the same school as their siblings.

Community Board 2 chair Brad Hoylman said he would like to see elementary school choice in District 2 retained.

"That choice is quite special," he said. "It's sad to see it challenged. When schools are in the same zone, they develop a particular character, and the competition between them is healthy."

Hoylman said the DOE should take into consideration the Foundling school, set to open in 2014 at the corner of West 17th Street and Sixth Avenue, the school Trinity Real Estate has proposed for Hudson Square, and the school NYU has proposed for the central Village "superblock."

"We need to look at when new schools are coming online," he said.

Hoylman added school rezoning has a big impact on affected neighborhoods.

"Communities are built around schools, so when rezonings occur, they're pretty traumatic," he said.

The District 2 CEC will hold a hearing on the rezoning proposal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 at P.S. 11, at 320 W. 21st St. The council is accepting feedback at d2zoning@gmail.com and on its Facebook page