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Assembly Speaker Offers Own Offices to Fix Overcrowded Classrooms

By Irene Plagianos | October 15, 2014 8:54am
 Parents say the partitioning of Tweed Courthouse rooms, as pictured above, is disruptive for their kids.
Parents say the partitioning of Tweed Courthouse rooms, as pictured above, is disruptive for their kids.
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Courtesy of Peck Slip School parent

LOWER MANHATTAN — Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver is challenging Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to find more space for the overcrowded Peck Slip School.

Silver told Fariña on Tuesday that he would let the Department of Education use conference rooms in his 250 Broadway office building if that will help the city fix a classroom crunch in the Peck Slip School’s temporary home at Tweed Courthouse, where the DOE has its headquarters.

As DNAinfo New York reported last week, the Department of Education has placed up to 50 students into some of the classrooms at Tweed — where parents worry there is too much noise and too many distractions — while officials have refused to let the school use adjacent DOE conference rooms that often sit empty during the school day, parents said.

Silver is now trying to convince the DOE to give up those Tweed conference rooms and convert them to much-needed classrooms for the Peck Slip School, and to use his conference rooms at 250 Broadway instead. 

“The education of our children is too important to be compromised for the convenience of DOE meetings that can easily take place elsewhere,” wrote Silver in a letter to Fariña on Tuesday. 

“I am proud to have worked with the DOE to create the Peck Slip School and I know it will be a wonderful facility when it opens. Until then, we need your help in making sure that our children are in an environment most conducive to learning.”

The DOE told DNAinfo that the agency is working to build higher, stronger partitions in the classrooms to help fix the noise problem, which should be installed by the end of the month.

Two first-grade classes and two second-grade classes are currently sharing classrooms, with the classes separated only by thin 6-foot-tall cubicle dividers.

The DOE said the shared classrooms, which are 2,400 square feet each, are not overcrowded and reiterated that all other space in Tweed Courthouse is occupied and not available for Peck Slip to use.

The Peck Slip School launched in the fall of 2012 with kindergarten classes at Tweed Courthouse. The school has continued using the temporary space while its permanent home in the South Street Seaport is under construction. The new school is set to open next fall.