The Community Education Council of district 1 held an all day workshop facilitated by NYCpublic.org on Saturday, January 11th to engage stakeholders in thinking about the future of our district community. At a time when parent involvement is a top priority for the new mayor and his chancellor, the Community Engagement Lab offered an important space to explore ways that parents and community members can become the driving force for change.
The premise of the CEL was using the potential for a new school in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) as a template for creating a community needs assessment. The SPURA development site, a large scale urban development project in the Lower East Side, includes 1000 additional units of housing. Although the Department of Education maintains that there will be no need for an additional school – a conclusion based on the same flawed and biased metrics that creates ongoing overcrowding in Tribeca every year- our district enrollment is projected to grow. As of now, a much higher percentage of children age 5-13 are attending district 1 schools compared to the citywide average with this trend expected to continue. Still we are vulnerable to co-location as a result of the flawed capacity and enrollment metrics.
This past summer DOE proposed co-locating a new Career and Technical Education school at University Neighborhood High School (click here for more information). Although the community has publicly opposed the co-location, plans to move forward continue. If the Department of Education wants to purport that community and parent engagement is a top priority, district 1 offers a shining example of collaboration as modeled by the CEL.
Check back here for updated information as we continue to summarize the findings of the CEL and continue to plan for the future.
Community Engagement Lab in the news!
The links below are a series of correspondences between State Senator, Daniel Squadron; Assembly Member, Sheldon Silver; Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer; Council Member, Margaret Chin; Council Member Rosie Mendez and former Chancellor of NYCDOE, Dennis Walcott as well as President of NYC School Construction Authority, Lorraine Grillo.
In the first letter dated 11/27/13, the aforementioned elected officials formerly request that the 2015-2019 Capital Plan be amended to include a new school construction project on the SPURA site.
Click here to view the letter.
In response, Deputy Chancellor of SCA, Kathleen Grimm states, “..we recognize that the existing capacity of schools in the area may not be able to accommodate the demand generated by the new housing planned at SPURA…” however went on to state that the decision not to include the SPURA school in the CP was “…a decision around timing and priorities.” Click here to view the entire response.
Another request to amend the 2015-2019 Capital Plan was submitted on January 28, 2014, further emphasizing the DOE’s “mistaken understanding of SPURA’s timeline” and the need to include the public school in SPURA.
For final letter, click here.