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Community Board 5's Education Committee Rejects School Rezoning Plan

By Jill Colvin | October 26, 2011 3:45pm
The new rezoning plan would put Penn South into P.S. 33's zone, and parts of the West Village into P.S. 11's zone.
The new rezoning plan would put Penn South into P.S. 33's zone, and parts of the West Village into P.S. 11's zone.
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Department of Education

MIDTOWN — The education committee of Midtown’s Community Board 5 unanimously rejected the city’s proposed school rezoning plan Tuesday night, arguing the changes would do little to address escalating concerns about overcrowding.

The Department of Education has proposed a massive rezoning plan that would rearrange school districts from downtown to the Upper East Side in an effort to shift the burden away from certain schools that are now bursting at the seams.

In the area that Community Board 5 covers, which falls inside school District 2, the plan would shift the catchment zone for P.S. 11 to include all families living north of 14th Street, and would also push all students who live north of 23rd Street and South of 26th Street, from Fifth Avenue to Ninth Avenue, from P.S. 11 into P.S. 33, which is considered by many to be an inferior school.

The plan also calls for several other major changes, including splitting the West Village into two separate school zones, so that parents no longer have a choice between P.S. 3 and P.S. 41.

But committee members argued that regardless of the merits of particular border shifts, the new plan fails to address the larger concern: serious overcrowding across the district, whose population is only expected to grow.

“It is a lot of aggravation for not much gain,” said CB 5 Education, Housing and Human Services committee chair Layla Law-Gisiko, who argued the changes were a band-aid that simply shifted the burden from painfully overcrowded schools to already-crowded ones.

Members also voiced strong objection to the fact that the plan failed to take into account the new Foundling Hospital School, which is expected to open in 2014. The board has been pushing the DOE to promise to designate the school as a "zoned school" to restrict those eligible to attend to only those who live in the neighborhood.

Members also took issue with the formulas used by the city to calculate school capacity and asked the DOE to come up with a better way to project population that takes into account factors such as new residential development.

The proposals were based on “inaccurate numbers,” board member Renee Cafaro said.

The District 2 Community Education Council has raised similar concerns, and has already threatened to reject the most controversial parts of the plan.

The full board will weigh in on the redistricting proposal at its next meeting, which will be held on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. at St. Xavier High School at 30 W. 16thSt.

The next meeting of the District 2 CEC will be held this evening at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 116, 210 E. 33rd St.