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Overcrowded East Side School Zones to Shrink in 2013

By Mary Johnson | December 7, 2012 3:17pm

MANHATTAN — Overcrowded East Side schools could see some relief next school year after officials voted to shrink the pool of students eligible to attend elementary institutions from Greenwich Village to the Upper East Side.

The District 2 Community Education Council approved sweeping zoning changes that will create new zones for P.S. 281, which is slated to open in Kips Bay in the fall of 2013, and the Foundling School, which is expected to open in Chelsea in 2014, said Eric Goldberg, a member of the District 2 CEC, which has the authority to approve or reject zoning changes put forward by the Department of Education.

Some of the zoning changes go into effect for the 2013 school year, when the zones for P.S. 59 in Midtown East and P.S. 116 in Kips Bay will shrink in order to create a new zone for P.S. 281, which is currently being built on First Avenue near East 35th Street.

“The hope is that could lead to positive changes in those [existing] schools, where there’ll be less crowing and hopefully smaller class sizes,” Goldberg explained.

Further north, the zone for P.S. 267 on East 63rd Street between Second and Third avenues, which has been under-enrolled since it opened several years ago, will be expanded — a move that will also shave a few blocks from the zone for P.S. 183, located on East 66th Street between First and York avenues.

P.S. 40 in Gramercy will also see its zone downsized, but the changes won't take effect until 2014, when the western portion of the zone will be shifted over to accommodate the new Foundling School, which will occupy the former Foundling Hospital at Sixth Avenue and West 17th Street.

Goldberg said the opening of the two new schools was the driving force behind the zoning changes and that the CEC passed a plan for two years out in order to give parents as much advance notice as possible.

The 2013 changes were approved unanimously by all eight members present, he said. The 2014 changes passed with a vote of 6 to 2. Two members were not present at the meeting.

“Our first priority is creating zones for new schools because we know that when schools open without a zone, its detrimental to building that new school community and the financial viability of that new school,” Goldberg said.

“As always though, there’s people who were upset and had certain expectations about what school they would be zoned for,” Goldberg continued, noting that the CEC had hosted 10 public hearings about the zoning since September.

“But I think, for us, we’re excited about having [two new schools] and think that people are going to be very pleased.”

Maps for the approved changes are available on the CEC's website.