After last week’s Community Education Council meeting on what to do about the overcrowded Upper West Side schools P.S. 191, 199 and 452, a group of parents against the Department of Education’s complicated rezoning plan launched a petition on Friday that had already gained 383 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
The plan would involve moving P.S. 452 16 blocks south to Amsterdam Avenue and W. 61st Street from its home at Amsterdam and W. 77th Street, into the soon-to-be-vacated building that currently houses P.S. 191, which will be moving into a brand new building. P.S. 452 was opened six years ago to combat the same overcrowding issue, and has proven to be a great success. Various rezoning options have been under consideration since 2015, but conflict between the parents of P.S. 191 -- whose students are mostly poor and black or Latino -- and the parents of P.S. 199 -- whose students are largely wealthy and white -- has prevented a decision from being made.
“The DOE needs to consider more comprehensive solutions to the overcrowding in District 3. Please leave P.S. 452 in our neighborhood where it is loved and needed and focus on maximizing the number of seats across all of District 3 by building a new school,” one anonymous signee commented on the petition.
The petition and corresponding website, donotmove452.com, were both created by a group of parents and community members calling themselves the Do Not Move 452 Coalition. However, at the meeting last week, some P.S. 452 faculty and parents expressed their support for the plan. Faculty members in support of the move to the current P.S. 191 building want to do so because there will be more space there, and some parents agreed that they should do whatever it takes to give their kids more resources.
But the most outspoken parents and neighbors are against the move. “I’m signing this because I feel strongly that we should keep our school in our community. I have a kindergartner at P.S. 452 and we love our local school! I also have two younger children that will be impacted by these decisions - PLEASE DO NOT MOVE PS 452!!!!” commented signee Danielle Gilbert.
Helen Rosenthal, the city councilmember representing the Upper West Side, said she has been hearing from lots of residents about the school rezoning issue. “I’ve been urging the Department of Education to present options to the community so we have information to talk about,” Rosenthal said. “Right now we don’t have any information, so I can’t speculate.”
No specific timeline has yet been set by the Community Education Council or Department of Education, but another meeting on the subject will be held in late July. Changes to the three schools involved in the rezoning could take effect as soon as 2017.