Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Member Rafael Espinal (Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Oceanhill-Brownsville, East New York) and the City’s School Construction Authority (SCA), yesterday announced the start of the public review process to build a new 1,000 seat school in the East New York.
The school, part of de Blasio’s plan to rezone the neighborhood, will serve grades pre-kindergarten through eight and will be cited next to a future affordable housing project – all perks for the community that de Blasio hammered out with Espinal to get the rezoning approved last Spring.
The new school building will be constructed on a portion of the City-owned Dinsmore-Chestnut site. The lot, which is currently vacant. It will sit next to a future affordable housing project.
“A school is so much more than a building full of classrooms,” said Espinal. “It is where our youth spend the majority of their waking hours learning valuable lessons of community, respect and friendship. A school is where students cultivate their interests and form lasting goals. Aside from the $17 million we allocated to improve existing East New York’s schools, I am so proud to see progress on our vision for a new state-of-the-art 1,000 seat school. The rezoned area will now have the best infrastructure for its students to grow and achieve their dreams.”
While Espinal and de Blasio cheered the coming development, the announcement did draw some criticism from the charter school advocacy organization, Families For Excellent Schools (FES).
“With over 7,000 classroom seats still empty in East New York, it’s baffling that Mayor de Blasio would deny public charter schools’ co-location requests and then build a brand new 1,000-seat district school,” said FES CEO Jeremiah Kittredge. “The new year is a time for a new direction– Mayor de Blasio must stop dragging his feet and satisfy parent demand for quality education options in East New York by siting charter schools in existing space.”
Espinal spokesperson Erika Tannor responded that Espinal is not at all against charter schools and favors parental choice, but noted that currently there is a 119% over utilization rate in this immediate school district, and 3,000 new units of housing entering the area.
“So, this is a great opportunity to provide services to a community which has been historically under-served. And, what better way to serve the community and accommodate its upcoming needs than to build a permanent, state-of-the-art, sustainable & high-tech new school to service 1,000 students pre-k though 8 for years to come,” said Tannor.
The neighborhood’s community board and community education council for school district 19 will hold hearings on the school. The deadline for public comment is Feb. 17.
“I hope the community will take advantage of this important opportunity to make their voices heard on this important component of East New York’s future. The foundation of a community’s success is built in its investment in ensuring we have safe places to raise healthy children and families; schools are cornerstones of that foundation,” said Borough President Eric Adams.
Comments on the proposed actions can also be submitted to the New York City School Construction Authority by email at [email protected]; or mail to New York City School Construction Authority, 30-30 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, New York 11101. Attention: Ross J. Holden.