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1,000 New Elementary School Seats Needed Downtown, DOE Says

 A crowded lunch room at P.S. 276 in Battery Park City.
A crowded lunch room at P.S. 276 in Battery Park City.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

LOWER MANHATTAN — After years of complaints from local parents and advocates about the overcrowding in Lower Manhattan’s popular public schools, the Department of Education said Wednesday that 1,000 new elementary school seats were needed to combat the neighborhood's space crunch.

In a closed-door meeting led by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to discuss school overcrowding, DOE officials acknowledged the need for the additional 1,000 seats, something parents and activists have long been championing.

"Today’s announcement by the Department of Education that 1,000 new elementary school seats are needed in Lower Manhattan is a tremendous victory for our local families," Silver said in a statement. "Now it is essential that we make sure the funding is allocated to build the new schools as part of the Department of Education’s upcoming capital plan.”

While the DOE acknowledged the need for more seats, a DOE spokesman confirmed, there remains no timeline yet to build them.

“We are working closely with this community to address the growth in elementary students and to look to the future," a DOE spokesman said Wednesday. "Today we shared preliminary data, and we look forward to continuing to work with [Silver's] task force.”

Several new public schools have opened Downtown in recent years — and the new 700-seat Peck Slip school is currently under construction — but parents have long worried that even the addition of Peck Slip would not be enough to accommodate the overflow of students in Lower Manhattan.

More than 100 youngsters were waitlisted for popular Lower Manhattan kingergarten classes this spring.