UPPER WEST SIDE — The Department of Education announced Wednesday that it will not present a new plan for rezoning the southern half of the neighborhood's school district as planned this week, but instead will continue to hold discussions with the community to try to reach consensus.
There is no timetable for when the DOE will publicly present a new zoning plan, and the discussions will be "ongoing," said department spokeswoman Devora Kaye. The DOE's plan to table the rezoning was first reported by the New York Times.
An initial plan presented by the department this September proposed shrinking the zone of popular school P.S. 199 by moving blocks into the P.S. 191 and P.S. 452 zones — a plan that some community members rallied against and the Community Education Council unanimously rejected.
Along with concerns about whether the West 77th Street O'Shea complex, which houses P.S. 452, could handle more students, residents and leaders were also concerned about sending more students to P.S. 191 while it carried a "persistently dangerous" designation. Students have a right to request a transfer from schools that carry that label.
The main goals of the initial rezoning plan were to reduce the wait list and ease overcrowding at P.S. 199 on West 70th Street, as well as to increase diversity at the school and at P.S. 191 on West 61st Street, the DOE had said.
The DOE is not presenting a plan because "we have been unable to reach consensus on the best course of action and believe more time is needed to work with the community to develop a long term plan for this area, including planning for the use of new building M342," the new school set to open in 2018 in Riverside Center, Kaye said.
Without a new zoning plan, the DOE acknowledged that the wait list issue at P.S. 199 would not go away.
"The DOE anticipates that P.S. 199 will have a kindergarten waitlist again this year, and will work with the CEC and school to support zoned families as they navigate the application process," Kaye noted.
Moving forward, the DOE said it would continue to work with the CEC, elected officials and the community to come up with solutions.
"Specifically, we will be convening meetings with the P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 communities to discuss the needs and interests of each school and to support those schools in planning for the 2016 school year and beyond, including programmatic supports at P.S. 191 and supports for waitlisted families in P.S. 199," Kaye said.
CEC 3 President Joe Fiordaliso said he was "extremely disappointed by DOE’s decision," citing all the work the council has been doing in recent months.
"Taking your ball and going home if you don’t get everything you want is not working in partnership," he said in a statement. "And that is what happened here; DOE did not get the precise zone map it wanted, so it took its ball and went home."