CEC3 president Joe Fiordaliso speaking at a meeting last month.

By Evelyn Levine

A Department of Education  plan to rezone three schools in the southern part of the Upper West Side appears destined to fail, as members of the local school board have begun to line up against the proposal.

“I hate to admit it but current DOE plan as it is – is unworkable – it just will not work,” said Joe Fiordaliso, the president of CEC3, the Upper West Side’s version of a school board. Among the biggest problems: parents didn’t feel there was enough time to debate and consider the plan, and some parents are unconvinced that PS 191 — a linchpin of the rezoning proposal — is educating students in a safe and effective way.

The Department of Education’s plan, explained in detail here, would cut 11 blocks out of the zone for highly coveted PS 199 on West 71st street, while putting more students into PS 452 on 77th street and PS 191 on 61st street. PS 199 is chronically overcrowded. The map below shows the proposed zoning lines, outlined in black, on top of the current zones, which are designated using different colors — 452 is yellow, 191 is purple, and 199 is blue.

zone map3

The CEC3 “president’s council” meeting followed immediately after a town hall with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, which we reported on here. It was clear the council was in agreement that the current DOE plan is not going to work – the “dangerous designation” being the last straw in ensuring parents from P.S. 199 would either leave the district or choose another school option if the re-zoning did occur. More time would be needed to get P.S. 191 to be perceived as a viable option for those parents. A new school that’s currently under construction (P.S. 342 on 61st and West End Avenue) could also be included in the final proposal. And the possibility of including money or space for schools as part of any new UWS development projects was discussed. CEC3 Zoning Committee Chair Kim Watkins also told a New York Times reporter that the Department of Education has not adequately answered questions about PS 191.

Kim Watkins, the chairwoman of the zoning committee of the District 3 Community Education Council, the elected body responsible for voting on zone lines, said that before P.S. 191 received the “persistently dangerous” designation, she had planned to support the rezoning. Her daughter attended P.S. 191 for kindergarten before being admitted to a gifted and talented program at another school, and Ms. Watkins said she loved it.

But now, she said, parents are asking, “‘Why would we rezone families to this school with low performance on one hand, but also this ‘dangerous’ school designation?’ And no one is answering the question.”

Parents at PS 191 have also expressed skepticism about the plan, telling a Gothamist reporter that the DOE has not explained it well. Many residents of Amsterdam Houses, which is mostly zoned for PS 191, like the school and feel like it’s an “equalizer” in a neighborhood that’s getting wealthier and wealthier.

“Here I’ve seen teachers who don’t care if you’re rich or not. You’re still a child and you need to learn the alphabet. That’s one thing I love about this school,” said one parent.

Others said the DOE needs to consider other ideas, as this one is creating mistrust.

“The way telephone is played, parents think they want to take our kids, get our kids out of the building, and move rich white children into the building,” said Palonia Lopez, an Amsterdam Houses resident whose three children attended PS 191.

“What they really need to do is build another school here, which they should have done first before they built the high-rises,” said Nannette Thomas, a longtime Amsterdam Houses resident.

Everyone seemed to agree on the goals – helping P.S. 191 improve and lessen the dangerous overcrowding at P.S. 199 – but there was no consensus as to how to get there. CEC3 could still come up with a new plan before the expected Nov. 19 vote, but right now it doesn’t look like the Department of education’s plan is going to be approved.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 86 comments | permalink
    1. Julie says:

      I applaud the CEC for acknowledging that the persistently dangerous label is a legitimate hindrance to any rezoning plan that forces families into 191. And it isn’t the only disturbing data about 191. Insideschools (which the Chancellor approvingly cited) shows that 61% of teachers say bullying is a problem at 191 (vs. 22% average), 33% of teachers say discipline is maintained (vs. 84% average), and 36% of teachers would recommend the school to other parents (vs. 86% average). Until the safety issues are proven to be resolved by objective data — and not anecdotal statements by self-serving officials citing hypothetical errors — the 191 zone cannot be expanded either through line drawing or a “super zone.”

      • Citizen says:

        When was that published? My understanding is that a lot has changed in the last few years.

        • Julie says:

          It is the most recently available data for insideschools. The persistently dangerous designation is also based on the most recently available data. Maybe things have started to change this year, but let’s see some supporting data rather than relying on the opinions of a few people that it hasn’t been there experience.

      • Uncle Matt says:

        Hear hear. And to think that Farina’s great “solution” last night was to get that “dangerous” designation removed from 191. She and her predecessors need to be held accountable. It seems the only thing they HAVE done is use our kids as pawns in their meaningless political careers. Disgusting.

        • J says:

          Yes, Uncle Matt. Farina seems to be a typical NYC politician; not-too-bright and disingenuous.

          CEC3 has indicated that they would have approved the proposed rezoning if not for the “persistently dangerous” designation. So Farina’s solution is to get the designation removed so CEC3 will approve her terrible re-zoning plan.

          CEC3 should hold out for a good solution. But they seem to be controlled by the new development in the Trump Place vicinity to whom the proposed re-zoning would be a step in the right direction.

          But for the neighborhood as a whole, the proposed re-zoning is terrible.

    2. 199mom says:

      A bust? No. Can this PLEASE not be the case? PS199 is projected to reach over 1200 students in the next few years. The space just isn’t safe for the 912 kids we already have. The building only has the capacity for 738 students.

      We need at least a temporary solution until the new 342 school is built in a couple of years and we can rezone with that school on-line (and having given 199 a chance to get past the persistently dangerous classification).

      The DOE is responsible for finding safe and educationally sound seats for the growing population of UWS children.
      The city has shown an appalling lack of planning and negotiation competence allowing developers to get away with huge developments without a requirement for associated infrastructure.

      • 199mom says:

        typo – give *191 time to get past the designation

      • Mike says:

        There was consensus among the CEC to limit the incoming class at 199 next year. Some suggested limiting it to 5 classes, though it is unclear how that would work with the numbers. They discussed adding a class at 452 for next year, so that would help. They also indicated waitlisted 199 families would have access to other D3 schools other than 191, but again not clear how that would work.

      • Mike says:

        For what it is worth, the DOE proposal that appears to have been rejected expected 6 K classes at 199 next year. If the CEC caps K classes at 5 next year, it would actually be better for overcrowding than the DOE’s proposal.

        • 199mom says:

          Thanks for that info. In an ongoing sense, capping 199 at 5 k classes seems to be the only way to move the overall school population back towards the building capacity.

          • Michael says:

            I don’t think there was any agreement on this point by anyone except 199 parents. This was an idea put forth by a member of the 199 community that was not well thought out as it didn’t place the children in the sixth or seventh 199 kindergarten anywhere. Yes, there is room at 452 that some 199 parents will take and there is room at 191 that no 199 parents will take. There is no room at 87, 9 or 166. These schools already have added kindergartens in the very recent past (like this year!) to accommodate higher enrollment priorities than 199 children. Going forward, if one wants to discuss this idea of sending several classes of 199 children to 87, 9 or 166, please send the administrations and PTAs of these schools an invitation to clarify the availability of alternate spaces. This is an idea that is DEAD ON ARRIVAL.

          • Selfish 199 parent says:

            If ps199 goes to 5 k classes, can we keep our personal chef. I am proud of the lessons we are teaching our children, stab your friends and neighbors in the back and only care about yourself. Be kind, work hard, hell yeah!!!!

            • 199mom says:

              There is no personal chef – that is a complete fallacy made up by an irresponsible journalist looking for points. There is a wellness in schools program so the kids actually get what the DOE calls the “healthy menu”. It’s in quite a few public schools. Check your facts.

            • Brandon says:

              The Gothamist mentions the personal chef as well
              “The PTA also pays for a chef who comes in once a month to help cafeteria staff to develop a healthy lunch menu.”

            • J says:

              “The PTA also pays for a chef who comes in once a month to help cafeteria staff to develop a healthy lunch menu.”
              Is someone who develops a healthy lunch menu on a monthly basis a “personal chef”? I don’t think so. This is the media going overboard. And is such a monthly lunch plan something that makes people angry just because other schools don’t have it? Personally, I applaud PS199 for planning good school lunches.

            • Brandon says:

              Nobody is saying the PTA shouldn’t pay for a chef to develop healthy lunch menus. The issues is the disparity between that and the other extras at 199 and the lack of any extras including a library and art as 191. Regardless of how nobly the 199 PTA spends their money the fact is they have a million dollars to spend and the 191 PTA has a few thousand.

        • brandon says:

          How could the CEC cap 199 at 5 K classes? They are responsible for finding seats for everyone and since 191 is labeled persistently dangerous families can ask to be sent elsewhere. There isn’t room in any of the schools for all those k students if 199 gets to downsize it’s incoming class.

          • Jen says:

            The CEC does not have the authority to cap classes. No matter what plan the CEC chooses, there is no guarantee that overcrowding will be alleviated at 199. Just like there is no guarantee for P.S. 87 or 9 etc. because they are going to be getting a lot of 199 and 191 kids.

          • Angeline says:

            It is not just parents who are asking for the 5 class cap. The presentation by the DOE assumes that the principal has signed on for 6 k classes.

            The reality is that there are waitlists and incoming students in higher grades. The unfortunate decision to create 7 k classes in 2014 means that 2nd grade will not necessarily shrink to 5 classes in 2016. If there are 6 classes of 2nd grade, there will not be room for 6 k classes in 2016. The “cluster” rooms under attack to be pressed into classroom service every year are not used for enrichment or optional instruction. They are used for classes that are on the schedule. It really impairs instruction if these teachers have to carry enough materials on rolling carts for 32 kids between classes. That 7th k class and decreasing attrition has nudged enrollment higher every year since 2009.

      • AlsoAParent says:

        The CEC said that they were likely going to rezone some blocks north to 452 in any case.

      • Rachel says:

        To the 199 parent suggesting this passes- good solution to the 199 over crowding problem: pull your child out of 199 and put them into 191. I hear there is plenty of room there. Open up some spots at 199 since apparently you feel 191 is a viable solution.

    3. yeah for ps 199 says:

      While there have been many meetings, it seems like the end product in all of this is that next year PS 199 will have only 5 kindergarten classes. Thus alleviating some of their overcrowding.

      Thus, appeasing the parents who are already there. The “Haves” have won a nice victory of making their “10” rated school even better.

      Some of these angry parents, who fought so hard to keep the lines, your child has a pretty good shot (unless sibling) of being waitlisted anyway. The principle of 199 believes close to half of the 5 classes will be filled with siblings.

    4. richard says:

      Time for a Hunger Games type solution to this problem!!

    5. S says:

      199mom wrote: “The city has shown an appalling lack of planning and negotiation competence allowing developers to get away with huge developments without a requirement for associated infrastructure.”

      She hit the nail on the head. Without a school for all the new development along the Hudson, there is no good solution. The city needs to build a school for the new Trump Place neighborhood and the surrounding vicinity. This is a long-term solution, not a band-aid. A band-aid won’t work. But the sad fact is I haven’t heard any talk of such a solution.

      As far as forcing people to go to 191, forced busing didn’t work in the 1970’s and it won’t work now, with or without a “persistently violent” designation. Integration must be done in a manner and at a pace that is healthy and agreeable.

      • AlsoAParent says:

        How can you compare this to forced busing? The area from 59th to 71st street that we are talking about is really not that large. We all basically live in the same neighborhood.

        • Mark says:

          To most of these people, especially the wealthy, everyone else may as well be 20 states away.

          • S says:

            It’s not the distance from home to school that I am referring to. It’s the attempt to re-zone kids into schools that their parents don’t want them to go to. It will never work if parents are strongly against it.

            Further, the DOE’s proposed zoning lines are not primarily based upon distance. They are based primarily upon politics. It’s classic gerrymandering: the manipulation of boundaries so as to favor one party or class.

            • Parent says:

              The reason the West end to Amsterdam blocks stays at 64 is because the 64 block contributes to much of the diversity at 199 because it is government subsidized housing, an extension of the NYCHA buildings. That is not politics. That is so we don’t lose the little diversity we have.

        • angeline says:

          I think the “forced busing” comment refers to the forced busing between PS199 and PS191 that was a result of court-ordered desegregation. PS199 & PS191 were paired schools (among with others in NYC). Whole grades were transferred to one school in order to achieve desegregation overnight. This was a failed experiment.

    6. J says:

      The principal of 191 is now under pressure to under-report the number of violent incidences at the school.

      This under-reporting will get 191 off the “persistently dangerous” list for next year. It’s the DOE trying to pull the wool over our eyes again.

      And violence is only half the problem (albeit the more disturbing half). The other problem is the terrible academic performance of the student’s at 191.

      • Uncle Matt says:

        Exactly. The DOE are useless politicos. They are part of the problem rather than the solution.

    7. Sally says:

      It’s about time people stopped with the PC nonsense. It’s a dangerous school because of the kids that go there. Doesn’t matter what their color is, does it? And can you expect that ANY parent wants their children around the type of kids who brought a dangerous designation to the school? I’m so tired that we can’t speak the truth. None of this is about color, its about behavior and NOBODY wants to be a part of bad behavior, least of all in the name of some PC diversity philosophy. These are real issues, real kids…

      • AlsoAParent says:

        Sally, your remarks are truly offensive, and are are indicative of the root of the problem.

        First, obviously you haven’t been to ANY of the meetings where everyone who knows anything about 191 has been saying that this designation is just nonsense. So why don’t you go to a meeting or two and educate yourself about the situation.

        Second, most people in New York City don’t get upset about the fact that the city is under-funding the DOE – because they can simply write checks to their PTAs and make the problem go away. For 199, that is to the tune of $800,000 dollars a year. For 191 its $24,000

        Do you have any idea that 191 kids have no library? no music teacher? no art teacher? few school supplies, until recently no social worker, only one teacher per class (As opposed to 2 in half of 199’s classes)…I could go on and on.

        199 kids were born on 3rd base and you fault them when they don’t get a home run?

        • Sally says:

          You confuse money with behavior. 191 is not a dangerous school because it doesn’t have library, believe me. And you can try to dismiss the dangerous designation all you want as “silly” but I don’t believe it one bit. Its probably even more dangerous than whats been reported, if anything since institutions tend to UNDERREPORT.

          • Also a parent says:

            Seeing is believing. I have been in that school many times. There is a tour this Wednesday at 845. Go on the tour and report back how scared you were. I dare you.

            I know many of the teachers. I emailed one just yesterday to coordinate donating books to their future library and instruments. I also donate to the school at their donors choose website. I cannot in good conscious donate to 199 and not to 191 when I can afford to.

            I have been an educator for far longer than I have been a parent so my view is not as narrow as yours. I know what it is like to teach in an underserved school. We teachers were not trained to only care about wealthy students or to dispariage others as less worthy. Too bad so many parents have been.

            • Anon says:

              How does one donate books to 191? They should publicize this. Put a flyer up in the public library. I’m certain the neighborhood could donate enough books to fill a school library.

            • Jane says:

              “I cannot in good conscious donate to 199”

              It’s “conscience,” not “conscious.” Are you sure you’re a teacher?

            • Bystander says:

              Don’t be petty, Jane.

            • 191 preK mom says:

              This. What “AlsoAParent” says.

              Seeing IS believing. I too was concerned before touring the school, but then when I did, was blown away by the dedicated administration, the engaged students, and the work I saw. The parent coordinator knows every child’s name, and every staff member I run into always greets me (and my child) with a smile. I can’t speak personally for the older grades, but my experience with pre-K so far has been excellent.

            • Also a parent says:

              Good question on books. I am just bringing them to the main office. We should have drop off boxes and posted info.

              Jane, can you pass a Calculus exam? I can write and grade one.

        • Uncle Matt says:

          Uh, i am pretty sure that any parent who has to write a check just so that their kid’s PUBLIC SCHOOL can afford to buy text books is not happy about it. The DOE is a huge part of this problem. As in 99%.

          Here is a crazy thought. Identify every business based in NYC that has set up offshore tax havens and charge them with a school tax.

          • Jen says:

            Or how about all of that luxury housing that causes the problem but is tax abated. When Alex Rodriguez had his penthouse in one of the Trump Towers he was paying 100 dollars a month in taxes. Google it. That is 1200 dollars a year and 25 percent as much as a crappy Lincoln Towers studio.

        • Sally says:

          One thing that I will say, however, that you might agree with, is that the NYC school system is so disturbingly rotten. There are so many things which are completely unfair to poor people starting with the G&T program which the DOE KNOWS RICH PEOPLE’S KIDS GET TUTORED FOR. Also, as you point out, schools like 199 get money from parents – THAT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL because it means that poor kids get LESS than rich kids. Lastly, the fact is that 50% of 199 students get tutored. A student simply cannot keep up at today’s pace without it. Teachers dish out loads of work and it is up to the parent to make sure he understands it. Poor people can’t afford these tutors. The system is rotten to the core and I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit with ANY of these 3 points serving as the complaint. These setups cannot be legal.

        • M says:

          So you say that 191 has : “no library? no music teacher? no art teacher? few school supplies, until recently no social worker, only one teacher per class (As opposed to 2 in half of 199’s classes).”

          And I’m a bad person because I don’t want my kids to go there? I’m a bad person if I work my butt off and live in a tiny apartment just to get in the right zone to send my kids to school with a library and all that stuff? Not to mention I don’t want my kids in a dangerous school?

          No, I’m a parent.

          And the situation in 191 is very sad, and I’m not without compassion for it. It should be solved by professionals, budgetary changes, etc.

          But the solution should not be to dump my kid in a school without a library to, what, spread out the disparity a little? That’s crap. How about uplifting bad schools, not sending more kids there and denying them a good education too.

    8. Beth says:

      I have attended several recent CEC meetings. I am constantly shocked at what a bunch of entitled, lazy ninnies these white and Asian 199 parents are. They are completely averse to any change and would rather stay in an unacceptably overcrowded school that invest in public education.

      These are the same idiots who wouldn’t send their kids to 452, even with a Principal who came from 199. Instead, a bunch of parents from the northern part of D3 took advantage of the opportunity to get a seat at 452 and turned it into a great school. Why can’t families currently zoned for 199 do the same at 191?

      For all of those parents who say they wouldn’t send their child to PS 191 because of test scores and safety concerns, what do you think parents in the northern part of D3 do? They send their kids to schools with lower test scores, they send their kids to school with children from often rough, low-income backgrounds and they make it work. Whether it’s G&T, dual language, or GenEd (gasp!), parents in the northern part of D3 work hard to make public education work. I know a boy who went from PS 163 GenEd to Delta (gasp! again). It is possible.

      District 3 does not have a homogenous student population. The majority of families in D3 are zoned for schools that contain housing projects and supportive housing within the catchment zone. PS163 and 75 split the Frederick Douglas Houses which is a larger complex than the Amsterdam Houses. Why can’t 199 and 191 splt the Amsterdam Houses? How fair is this to families who live in the nothern part of D3 and send or want to send their childern to schools in their neighborhood that the current and proposed zoning keep the Amsterdam Houses segregated to 191. The cost of the low resource, high need student population in D3 should be shared equitably and as it stands right now, that is not happening.

      • Someone who actually went to meeting says:

        Beth, if you went to the meeting you would have heard near unanimous statements from all the parents, including whites and Asians, for a rezoning plan that actually integrates the 199/191 communities. The problem is that the DOE’s plan dod not address integration at all, but created a smaller more exclusive zone around 199 while sending a handful of families to 191. The only thing that has happened is the CEC has rejected the DOE’s poor proposal and is now trying to explore a better rezoning plan that actually integrates the community, such as a super zone with controlled choice or pairing. Please also remember that parents are not going to the schools, but their five year old kids. Trying to make sure your child has the best opportunity for succeed is not “lazy” or “entitled,” it is caring parenting. Most parents I heard were trying to find a way for all kids to have as equal an opportunity for success, such as the split grade option. Stop name-calling and try coming up with a helpful solution.

      • NoRezoning says:

        the biggest differences between the new 452 scenario and the current 191 scenario is that 452 was a NEW school. A blank slate. The 191/199 is more of a East West Germany scenario…!

    9. Mike says:

      Just a little perspective amongst the negativity. The only thing the CEC did was rightfully reject the awful DOE proposal that segregated the 199 community even more from 191 and likely wouldn’t solve overcrowding (it anticipated 6 full kindergarten classes next year without considering new buildings or people moving into the zone). The CEC is trying to get a better proposal that addresses integration and more resources to 191, though it is not feasible for 2016 at this late stage and with the dangerous designation. Unfortunately, the DOE has very simplistic ideas on zoning and that has forced the CEC to battle for a better proposal. The CEC has done about as well as you could do, unless you would prefer a bad reactionary fix for one year that creates more problems down the line.

      • J says:

        But Mike, my understanding is CEC3 has indicated that they would have approved the proposed rezoning if not for the “persistently dangerous” designation. So Farina’s solution — to get the designation removed — will result in CEC3 approving her terrible re-zoning plan.

        If CEC3 has something else up it’s sleeve, they have not presented it as viable.

        • Mike says:

          J, I don’t think the CEC said they would have approved the DOE’s proposal but for the dangerous designation. Most if not all were against the proposal regardless of the designation, but for differing reasons. Some didn’t like the proposal because it didn’t address new construction (such as Joe); some didn’t think it adequately addressed integration (such as Noah); and some didn’t think it was backed by robust data analysis (such as Dan). I think all were skeptical that the plan would work long-term as families would likely just move into the smaller 199 zone and the recently announced huge construction projects would likely cause overcrowding again.

          • J says:

            I hope you’re right, Mike.

            The West Side Rag article upon which we now comment suggests otherwise:

            “Kim Watkins, the chairwoman of the zoning committee of the District 3 Community Education Council, the elected body responsible for voting on zone lines, said that before P.S. 191 received the “persistently dangerous” designation, she had planned to support the rezoning.”

          • Mike says:

            I hope so too, J. Kim’s quote is confusing as the DOE developed its proposal in September after the dangerous designation was announced. Maybe Kim meant that she was generally in favor of rezoning until the designation was announced? Regardless, the DOE said the earliest the dangerous designation could be removed is August 2016. It would seem incredibly irresponsible to rezone assuming the designation MAY be removed, so presumably rezoning will wait for 2017 and there will be more time to develop and consider better proposals.

            • J says:

              DOE’s development of its proposal took place AFTER 191 was designated “persistantly dangerous”? I didn’t know that. I thought DOE developed its plan PRIOR to the “persistently dangerous” designation. If what you say is true, then DOE’s actions are outrageous. That means DOE’s response to 191’s dangerous designation was to try to make it more crowded.

            • Mike says:

              Yes, I was outraged, particularly as the lack of response to public opposition and the CEC’s silence until Wednesday made it feel like this was a political screw job. I think that is where much of the anger stemmed from here and in public hearings.

    10. Sophie says:

      Okay, so we all live in this neighborhood together. And we all love our kids. And we want them all to do well.

      Wouldn’t it be great if all the parents and teachers from all 2-3 schools got together and think about how they can help make both schools flourish?

      I believe that regardless of economics or race, we all have something to contribute — ideas, time, resources. Yes, the wealthy will end up giving more monetarily because they’ve got more money. But, what’s money if we can’t help our neighbors and neighborhood flourish?

      Wouldn’t that be a great life lesson in sharing, and how to treat others with dignity?

      • Jim says:

        Sounds reasonable to me. That is how this should have started back in February, rather than having the DOE develop its own plan and unleashing it on the public a month before the November deadline. It’s really surprising the DOE doesn’t have a more sophisticated understanding of zoning such as data, integration, new construction, or simple ways of alleviating tension in the community by working together without a time crunch. Thankfully, some promising proposals have been developed by the CEC and some community members themselves. It would be great if everyone could weigh in on those ideas in a relatively civil forum where we aren’t under the gun of a winners/losers DOE line plan.

    11. Anni says:

      I LOVE the idea that would have all the kids in the SW corner of District 3 go together to PS199 K-2, and then move together through other buildings for grades 3-8. Dividing grades (not neighborhoods) among PS199, 191 and 352 is an awesome idea!! I hope the plan would mix up the teachers, too, and help the principals collaborate. This would reshuffle the deck in a way that can benefit everyone.

      • Brandon says:

        Anni, I love that idea too. Where I suspect it will run into trouble is from parents who would have to drop of a 5 year old and one school and an 8 year old at the other (and the same for pick up). Although I’m sure someone would start a service to escort siblings from one schoolyard to the other for a small fee.

        • Citizen says:

          I like this idea too. It seems to meet all the objectives. Lots of people have multiple drop offs and since the schools are relatively close, this seems a minor inconvenience. Also the older elementary school kids start walking by themselves. Does anyone know why this wasn’t listed as an option originally by the DOE?

          • angeline says:

            This is not a minor inconvenience. It’s one situation when one HAS to do (preschool v. school) and there is one child attending a gifted program v. gen ed and another situation when kids are both in gened and split up when they are typically together elsewhere in the district.

            Families LIVE for the day when they can do 1 dropoff. Typically, kids 6th grade & up are not dropped by parents, and families really value the time that they can be at 1 school. Families in the district would also love to have more high-performing K-8 options.

            • Wake up says:

              No Angeline, people live for the day that they can just send their kids to a high performing local public school and not have to be segregated, or go to a military style Charter school 30 blocks north or an expensive private school. Your world is so small and narrow.

            • S says:

              Very good point, Angeline. This plan would create big problems for parents of multiple kids. (The person who calls himself “Wake Up” should learn to be a little more accepting of the ideas of others and stop with the hostile remarks.)

    12. J says:

      Beth wrote:

      “PS163 and 75 split the Frederick Douglas Houses which is a larger complex than the Amsterdam Houses. Why can’t 199 and 191 split the Amsterdam Houses?”

      The concept is a good one. Schools will share the burdens and benefits of the kids from the Amsterdam Houses (yes, they do present special problems to schools and yes they do bring good stuff to schools). But the Amsterdam Houses students should be split not two ways, but three ways: they should be split between 191, 199, and 342 (slated to open in 2018). We must wait until 342 opens until we implement the plan.

      Why wait until 342 opens? Because when we have the third school, the student population in 199 can be greatly decreased. Until it’s greatly decreased, 199 can’t handle the Amsterdam Houses kids. Also, there is a tipping point as to how many kids from the projects a school can handle before the special challenges overwhelm the school.

    13. J says:

      “Someone who actually went to meetings” wrote:

      “Beth, if you went to the meeting you would have heard near unanimous statements from all the parents, including whites and Asians, for a rezoning plan that actually integrates the 199/191 communities.”

      I’ve gone to meetings and I can assure you that the above statement is not true.

      • Someone who actually went to meeting says:

        I guess we must have heard different things. I know that the overwhelming comment at the 2 public hearings was that the segregation between the schools was wrong and the zoning plan should try to integrate the schools. In the last zoning committee meeting, roughly 90 percent of the crowd raised their hand in saying diversity should be a factor in zoning. Indeed, a group of community members involving whites and Asians spent a HUGE amount of time researching and developing the split zone plan, including creating a large Excel spreadsheet outlining the advantages and disadvantages of all the plans in A LOT more detail than the DOE ever did. There were a handful of people that expresses anger (inappropriately sometimes) but that was mainly because it felt like the DOE and CEC were not listening to complaints about the DOE’s plan and instead trying to convince families that the dangerous designation and low test scores were not valid concerns. Calling people names is not productive. That said, I did not fairly recognize Beth’s proposal of splitting up the Amsterdam Houses. That seems like a possibly promising solution. It would help if the residents of the Amsterdam Houses provided their views on all the proposals — I only heard from 3 residents in all the meetings: 2 had gotten into 199 and loved it and the other just expressed frustration that she couldn’t be in the 191 classrooms as much as in the past.

        • J says:

          You write: “I know that the overwhelming comment at the 2 public hearings was that the segregation between the schools was wrong and the zoning plan should try to integrate the schools.”

          I completely agree with that statement.
          But I wouldn’t call it “near unanimous statements from all the parents.” And there is a gap between what people applaud at a meeting at what people actually support. People who want to keep 199 only 2% black might applaud a statement at a meeting that urges integration, but they don’t actually support bringing large numbers of kids from the projects into their school.

          Further, there is surely a large population of people who support the proposed rezoning precisely because it keeps the Amsterdam Houses kids out of 199. I’m not one of these people (I want more integration) but I do think there is a large number of people who have this view but are afraid to voice this view for fear of seeming racist.

          • Someone who actually went to meeting says:

            Fair points. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that very few of the winners of the DOE zoning game manufactured arguments in favor it at the public hearing. While not attacking the proposal, the few who talked at meetings generally focused their comments on the need to improve 191. It is testament to how bad the proposal was that even beneficiaries couldn’t argue for it. That said, I’m sure a fair amount of people sheepishly emailed or submitted survey responses in favor of the proposal. I know friends I talked with tried to hide their delight in the windfall.

          • Someone who actually went to meeting says:

            Last comment…one good thing that came from this process is that I (and many others, I suspect) learned a lot about the segregation between the schools. Previously, I just knew that 199 had better scores and reputation. I was really surprised by how intense the differences were, such as 199 having only 2% black students. Even if my family becomes a 199 family, I would like that to change. I thought the split site proposal was the most promising for this.

            • J says:

              Good points.
              Our school system is broken.
              The question is how to fix it without damaging the outstanding PS 199.

              DOE’s proposal is ineffective and offensive.

          • Be not afraid says:

            The people who are afraid of 191 kids invading 199 are misinformed. There are about 35 kids going to kindergarten at 191 every year. Only 67% of kids at 191 are zoned to 191 according to the CEC meeting notes from Oct 15 published in the Westside Rag. That means the ENTIRE area from 59th to 71st has about 25 zoned 191 kids to spread out over 3 schools. What is the big deal?

            • J says:

              If your stats are correct, Be Not Afraid, then it seems that your idea is the only good solution; The three schools (191, 199, and 342 [to be opened in a couple of years]) could all be nicely integrated schools if the public housing were divided three ways. This would be the long term solution. Apparently, the DOE is not interested in long term solutions.

    14. J says:

      Sally wrote:

      “It’s about time people stopped with the PC nonsense. It’s a dangerous school because of the kids that go there.”

      Alas, she is largely correct. I went to school with kids from PJs and, as an adult, I worked in PJs. Most of the people who live in PJs are wonderful. But there tends to be a large amount of dysfunction in PJs. This dysfunction is brought to school. It can very easily become too much for any school to handle and it can very easily overwhelm the rest of what school is supposed to be for.

      • Be not afraid says:

        Read my comment above. We are talking about 2 kids per class if spread out. Please don’t tell me you are afraid of one Black kid and one Latino kid in your kid’s class. If so, please move back to the suburbs.

        • Brandon says:

          What proposal is that? If you split the k classes over what 3 schools? The new one won’t be open for a couple of years. If you leave the 191 1st – 8th graders at 191 you’re still asking parents to send their child to a persistently dangerous school with no library or art when their next door neighbor gets to go to a school with those things and a million dollars a year in PTA money. Eventually the student body could even out except that it won’t because nobody is willing to be a leader when that means sending their 5 year old to an undesirable school.

          • J says:

            Dear Mr. Be Not Afraid (If that’s really your name):
            You say “We are talking about 2 kids per class if spread out.” Who’s plan are you talking about? Certainly not the DOE’s. And certainly not CEC3’s. Alas, I wish the DOE and CEC3 were to endorse such an equal integration, but they have not.

    15. Solved says:

      Add a floor to the top of PS199, problem solved.

    16. For those who are looking for both a socially just and rational solution which *simultaneously* solves for both the overcrowding at PS199 AND the lack of critical mass and diversity at PS191, please visit and read our petition to the Mayor for a “3 school split-sited” solution at In speaking to CEC members, there is growing interest in such a solution, but a HUGE factor is whether there is community support, so if you are for a logical solution which also helps to break from a decades long trend of de facto segregation, please support our petition! Thank you!

    17. In Limbo says:

      For anyone looking for an update from Monday’s CEC meeting, it was depressing. No progress was made and in fact we may have taken a few steps back. The only decision made was to extend the time for the DOE’s final presentation to 11/19 and the CEC’s final vote to 12/2. Other than that, it is completely unclear what the goals are for any proposal to be presented on 11/19 (overcrowding, integration, new construction); what the proposal will consist of (new lines, old lines, super zone, shared site); or how the community would be given a chance to weigh in on the proposal. Otherwise, the only news was that the 191 leadership team said that they did not want a shared zone lottery between 191 and 342, but preferred 191 and 342 to be paired whenever 342 was ready. It is unclear who supports that other than the 191 leadership team.

      Joe, Nan, and PJ were the only sane people who recognized families were going to be selecting schools in a month and the CEC needed to focus on a plan for 2016 now. Noah was all over the place, but seemed to want to setup multiple task forces to explore various ideas while also refusing to delay any rezoning after 2016. Most of the others dismissed the need for families to have clarity soon and requested delay, though none suggested any concrete proposals to actually explore during the delay. Most of the meeting was spent discussing non-pressing issues like how long it would take to hire a new principal at 342. The persistently dangerous designation that most agreed last week was a major hurdle to rezoning for 2016 was not acknowledged once. Frankly, it seems everyone is tiring out and there is significant risk that a bad plan will get jammed through in the end just so everyone can be done with it.

      • Mike says:

        It is late to undertake any sweeping change for next year. They really need to come up with an interim plan for 2016 while exploring the different ideas for a long-term rezoning. As Noah said, rezoning isn’t about next year but many years; but we need something for next year very very soon. In fairness, they sound like they are exploring best using some limited space at 452 for next year at least.

      • J says:

        Dear Mr. In Limbo,

        Thank you for the update.
        I have questions for you.

        You wrote:
        “The 191 leadership team said that they did not want a shared zone lottery between 191 and 342, but preferred 191 and 342 to be paired whenever 342 was ready.”

        What’s the difference between a shared zone lottery between 191 and 342 and pairing the two schools?

        What does it mean to have 191 and 342 paired whenever 342 is ready?

        I guess I don’t know what “pairing” means.

    18. Jill says:

      It’s disgusting that nothing is going to happen due to bowing to pressure from the very well-organized PS199 parents even though everyone knows this situation is untenable. This area must be rezoned or (even better) turned into a superzone. As for lifting 191, ideas of adding 2 G&T classes, cutting out the failing middle school, and adding dual language are all great ideas and should be implemented ASAP. Sitting on their hands and doing nothing is shameful!!!!!

      • angeline says:

        G&T has been tried at PS191 before. The issue with G&T is that the G&T classes at PS191 were not filled. Overall, there is high demand for seats at PS166 G&T, but not in District 3’s other G&T sites.

        Having a bilingual stream is an intriguing idea – there is a successful Spanish program at PS87 & 75 and French at PS84.

        I think there would also be strong support for a new math curriculum at PS191 that follows the lead of Scarsdale/Rye in moving away from Everyday math & TERC.

        • J says:

          You seem to know a lot. Thanks for sharing.
          I wonder why the G&T slots at 191 were not filled… back when there was a G&T program there. (When was that?) Did parents not want to send their kids there?