ANOTHER REZONING MEETING CANCELLED AS CITY HAS NO NEW PLAN; STATE SENDS CRITICAL ADVISORY LETTER

watkins-and-cec3
Members of CEC3 at a recent meeting.

The Department of Education isn’t ready to present a new plan to rezone Upper West Side schools, so Community Education Council 3, the local school board, has cancelled a hearing scheduled for this Thursday. That leaves the timeline for the rezoning process up in the air, with only weeks to go before parents start registering next year’s Kindergartners. The final vote on the plan was expected to be held on Nov. 9, but that will now be postponed to an unknown date, according to the CEC. Here’s the full notice:

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The timeline going forward is tricky. The Panel for Educational Policy, which votes on school re-siting, is set to vote on the move of PS 191 to a new building on 61st Street and West End Avenue on Nov. 16. (By the way, written comments about that proposal can be submitted to D03Proposals@schools.nyc.gov). If that school gets the green light to move, it’s hard to imagine that the city can simply do nothing about zoning, given that the new building has a different capacity than the old one.

And an even bigger deadline looms two weeks after that. Parents with kids born in 2012 can apply for Kindergarten starting on Nov. 30. But presumably the vote will have to occur substantially before that date.

A Department of Education spokesperson had no answer when we asked when the DOE’s rezoning plan would be ready. And when we asked for the last possible date for the CEC to vote so the new lines can be included in Kindergarten Connect, the spokesperson wrote “We are continuing to work with the community to develop a rezoning proposal that will best serve all families in District 3.”

In addition, the state has added a new wrinkle to the debate over a letter that the CEC sent to the Department of Education laying out guidelines for the rezoning. Some opponents have claimed the letter violated open meetings rules. Those opponents (the group’s members are anonymous, but include people who oppose moving PS 452 and may also include residents of Lincoln Towers) reached out to the New York Secretary of State’s Committee on Open Government for an opinion.

Assistant Director Kristin O’Neill of the Committee on Open Government sent a letter that states her opinion that the letter should have been voted on “during an open meeting.” (To be sure, O’Neill only heard from opponents to the plan, and not the CEC itself.) We’ve posted the full letter below.

When presented with the states advisory letter, CEC3 President Joe Fiordaliso reiterated his position that accusations open meetings violations are “baseless.”

Advisory State by westsiderag on Scribd

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 34 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      In the spirit of cooperation, I hope this all turns out well for all involved.

      But that will require real cooperation by all involved.

    2. Anon says:

      If I was part of an organization that received a letter from the State of New York like that, I’m not sure I would be running around calling the claims “baseless.” Likely, I would keep my mouth shut and head down.

      Is it stupidity or arrogance on the president’s part. Or as someone said on another thread on this blog, perhaps it’s power.

    3. Carlos says:

      My angst is more directed at the DOE than the CEC. It amazes me how long it is taking them to put together a plan. This is really getting ridiculous. And for all the time they are taking, thus far the DOE plans have been unsatisfactory and incomplete.

      Selfishly, I wouldn’t mind another year of status quo. But I recognize that something has to be done sooner rather to later to alleviate overcrowding, better utilize space, and improve educational outcomes (without diminishing educational outcomes for others). That being said, I don’t want them to hastily rush through an incomplete, poorly thought out plan. I am cautiously optimistic that with a little (but not a lot of) time we can reach a good solution.

      • Beth says:

        @Carlos – You forgot one thing. This rezoning is also about dealing with the inequity between the Northern and Southern parts of District 3. As someone who has lived in the Northern part of District 3 for several decades, it bothers me that 199 has been able to fight integration with the Amsterdam Houses for years, with the exception of one building, while those of us in the Northern part of Distrct 3 are zoned for schools with projects and supportive housing in the catchment zones. If 163 and 75 can split the Frederick Douglass Houses (which according to the NYCHA website is a larger complex both in terms of the number and height of buildings than the Amsterdam Houses), then 199, 342/452, and 191 can splt the Amsterdam Houses. There shouldn’t be one standard for the Northern part of District 3 and another standard for the Southern part of District 3. 191 is the only school in District 3 with a complete housing project complex within its catchment zone. I understand that those of you who are new to this neighborhood don’t know about what goes on throughout District 3. It is important though to realize that this rezoning is not just about families zoned for 199 or 452. It is about what is fair for EVERYONE in District 3.

        • Carlos says:

          You are making a few points here – let me try to understand them better:
          – Do you want Douglass Houses to continue to be divided between two schools? I am less familiar with that part of the district so am curious to learn more about it

          – the District makes a hard stop at 59th Street – everything below is D2. Currently (about to change), PS 191 is the southernmost school in the zone by quite a bit, and Amsterdam Houses are also near the southern end of the district. So to maintain the goal of students going to schools near their homes, which I think should be the number one goal, there weren’t a lot of options for Amsterdam Houses.

          – That being said, ideally I think part of Amsterdam Houses should have been put in 199, as it isn’t far away. However, I am curious for the perspective of Amsterdam Houses residents – we have seen what an uproar potentially splitting up Lincoln Towers has made. Do the residents of Amsterdam Houses actually want to be split up, or is this just liberal, white, do-gooder, nosy, all-knowing, upper west siders imposing themselves on people?

          – Regardless, sending Amsterdam Houses kids to 452 (where it sits now) makes no sense for the same reason that sending 452 kids to 191 makes no sense – it is way too far, though if a parent chooses that option for their children, that is a different story.

          – With the new school coming online, Amsterdam Houses can be split much more easily, and I think it should be, subject to some input from its residents. Lines have to be redrawn to optimize utilization of the new school and relieve overcrowding at 199. Promoting diversity and integration would be a nice secondary consideration as well. No matter how those lines are drawn, someone will be unhappy. Giving as much notice of the changes and grandfathering students and siblings would help to minimize angst.

          – All that being said, what is your optimal end game for the northern part of the district, assuming we are not going to have a complete paradigm switch such as controlled choice?

          • Older says:

            I’m interested in what the residents of the Amsterdam Houses think about all this too. Last year in Brooklyn, during the PS8/307 rezoning, at least some residents of the Farragut Houses pushed hard to not just keep the Farragut Houses that were already in the 307 there, but also to bring 3 buildings that had been zoned for 8 into the 307 zone. Their concern (as I understood it) was maintaining a diverse school community and not setting in place an inevitable change of the school to the extent that the current school community would be overwhelmed and disempowered by newly zoned families. I don’t feel that has been much of the conversation here at all, which is interesting to me.

            • Carlos says:

              Exactly. Not everyone wants to be integrated. How would you feel if you were living in Amsterdam Houses, working several jobs to put food on the table, and your kid was coming home every night wondering why they can’t have all of the things their wealthy peers have and stressing about keeping up because they did not have the same level of pre-school education and do not get the academic support at home that their peers do? I am UMC and when I was considering private school for my child I know that this was a concern for me. And please do not put the blame on the wealthy families for this.

              So again, let’s stop telling people what is best for them and encourage them to have a say in the matter.

            • complicated says:

              Exactly. And what scares me is that the DOE is going for the easiest solution that will bring up overall test scores (on average) when the students they are proposing to try to help may actually end up falling behind their peers when there is no specialized services for them.

          • Older says:

            I couldn’t reply to your reply to me, so I reply here . . . I don’t know that I see the issue as stopping at the question of whether people “want to be integrated.” The importance of hearing all voices is understanding the breadth of concerns to shape the process. So with the 8/307 rezoning, there was actually a move to maintain at least a majority of families at 307 who qualify for free or reduced lunch, and that idea was incorporated into the proposal that was approved. That obviously is not part of the proposals being discussed here.

          • More info says:

            Carlos,

            There is absolutely no plan to have kids from the Amsterdam houses travel to 452’s current building. The furthest kids from the Amsterdam Houses would travel is P.S. 199, only 8 blocks away.

            The plan is to have a third of the kids from the Amsterdam Houses be rezoned to the Amsterdam facility (where 191 currently is). Since there is grandfathering, it will take some time before the full third of the children from the houses actually go to the Amsterdam facility. In all we are talking about 1-3 kids per class.

            The younger kindergarten siblings of 452 children that move to the Amsterdam facility would go to school with some of the kids from the Amsterdam Houses, but the vast majority of the kids would be from the massive amount of blocks being rezoned from 199.

            Beth is absolutely right when she says that 191 is the only school in our district that has had a NYCHA complex all on its own. One of the other complexes is shared among 2 zones and another is shared by 3 zones.

            Even Stuyvesant Town, which is similar historically to Lincoln Towers, is separated. Actually, part of it is in district 2 and part of it in district 1.

            Worrying about a community not being split up pales in comparison to worrying about having a quality school for your child. If you had to choose between those two choices what would you choose? Don’t you think they are wise enough to make this choice too?

            Some Lincoln Towers residents that feel that they shouldn’t have to make choices like that. They should have it all then, now, and always, no questions asked – as if they bought shares in the school.

            Not only is the suthern area of the district “more entitled” than the northern area, but Lincoln Towers is the most entitled community in the whole district.

            I really think everyone who is not living in Lincoln Towers should be outraged at the disproportionate attention the development gets. If you agree, tell your representative as much.

            • Carlos says:

              I happen to agree with you on Lincoln Towers. Ideally, it should be kept together, but I would not sacrifice other goals to achieve this. I agree that the whining and entitlement from Lincoln Towers residents is a bit much, but the level of hatred directed towards them also is. These are parents fighting for what is best for their kids.

              Regarding Amsterdam Houses, again, I really want to know if they want to be broken up. Ideally, I think they should be, particularly to be consistent with my thesis on breaking up LT. But let’s hear what they have to say.

            • @SoapboxO says:

              Regarding PS191’s largely poor POC population as potentially being a good thing, this is probably well intentioned but misguided.

              Don’t forget that Brown v Board overturned “separate but equal” 60+ years ago. Could a child be better off separate but equal? Maybe. But it’s just extremely unlikely that the child is better off with the status quo than at a school where the PTA might raise $500,000 or $1 mm. In practice, separate usually means unequal.

      • MichaelScott says:

        The DOE is completely incompetent. The CEC basically conspired with the DOE to come up with a plan they both wanted to. The DOE’s stupidity and the CEC’s arrogance got them into this mess. I am so glad they got busted.

    4. NewCECleadership says:

      All The CEC president, Joe, has been saying in response to all the letters is that they are baseless. It appears that he can’t even be bothered to draft a reasoned and comprehensive rebuttal. This is the same guy, who, in a paper interview, said that he got involved in the CEC because he was upset that his daughter was waitlisted for a school a block away from his house (ps 199). Now he is telling ps 452 parents to walk 16 blocks, passing 2 schools on the way, to their school. The hypocrisy and sense entitlement of this man are astounding. How can we ever trust his leadership?

    5. Cyrus says:

      FWIW, for those of us with no skin in the game re: school rezoning, these articles are becoming really tiresome.

      • UWS Dad says:

        Well then don’t read them! As someone who this does affect, I’m very grateful to WSR for the clear, detailed and timely reporting on this long-running saga which potentially impacts hundreds of families across the UWS. I know several parents who have been introduced to WSR as a result of their coverage of this issue, and there simply is no better source of information on the matter. Keep up the great work WSR!

        • ScooterStan says:

          Re: “…grateful to WSR for the clear, detailed and timely reporting on this long-running saga which potentially impacts hundreds of families across the UWS.”

          Exactly! Many of us are way-y-y-y beyond child-rearing-age, BUT this IS our neighborhood and what happens here affects ALL property values.

          Besides, the “Rag” is actually practicing an ancient and increasingly rare art — it’s called JOURNALISM — something that is totally gone from local TV “News”…unless you are really a fan of house fires, gang-related shootings, car crashes, celebrity-misbehavior, and, let’s not forget, videos of a deer running through a diner somewhere “upstate”.

      • Pigeon says:

        The WSR articles are a great service!

    6. Older says:

      I wonder if they will kick back the vote and offer support/let parents change their registration/application like they did for the PS8/PS307 rezoning last year. That vote happened on Jan 5, after K application process had started, and just 10 days before the deadline for K applications.

      • Anon says:

        I’m hearing that they are trying to figure out whether they can offer in-zone PS 452 families spots at PS 87/199. The DOE apparently isn’t keen on busing them all to 61st street.

        • newCECleadership says:

          Anon, if what you are hearing is true, that seems to be the right thing to do for the DOE by guaranteeing families who are blindsided by the PS452 relocation a spot in ps87 or ps199. But has the DOE ever done something sensible like this? Neither they nor the CEC seem to care about families at all.

        • Stuart says:

          My son is in 5th grade at PS 87, and he has over 30 kids in his class. I doubt there’s room for more sutdents at this school, which has been overcrowded since my daughter started there seven years ago…

          • Anon says:

            I’m sorry to hear that Stuart. Unfortunately the 452 move will almost certainly make the crowding at 87 worse.

    7. Janine Serual says:

      Perhaps it is best to stop reporting on the school zoning shit show until something is actually resolved, approved, agreed upon, done, decided, made into law,…At this point it’s become more a nuisance than news.

      • West Sider says:

        Sorry to hear it’s annoying some folks, but you really do have no obligation to read the posts. We will continue to follow it closely, as the process itself is important and it is of great interest to many readers (though clearly not all of course!)
        WSR

      • Anon says:

        Janine – the beauty of the internet (or any news media for that matter) is that you can simply chose not to read it.

        Right now the zoning issue is perhaps the biggest issue for UWS families. I applaud the WSR for its factual reporting of the matter.

        I will agree with you on one point – it is a shit show!

      • dannyboy says:

        Janine,

        This is how Democracy works. I agree that this is frustrating, but I
        prefer to be informed and involved vs. finding out what was decided for me.

        I don’t want anybody to tell me what to do. I know it’s kinda’ quirky.

        • David Collins says:

          It’s very simple. You leave PS 452 and PS 87 as is. They are fine. You leave PS 199 as is as well. You also leave PS 191 as is. You then open a new school somewhere between PS 191 and PS 199 and invite anyone from either of those three schools PS 452, PS 87, PS199 and PS 191) to join the school. You basically make the zone for the new school encompass all the four other schools zones. This would seem to help with over-crowding and waitlists, with improving the situation at PS 191, with limiting the commute for PS 452…

          • Stuart says:

            Which buildings do you plan to tear down to build this new school? If it’s not a tear down, what existing buildings have room for a new school? I know – what about putting the school in the tower that Congregation Shearith Israel wants to build on West 70th St?

            Where will you find qualified experienced teachers to staff this school?

            Which parents in their right mind will send their kids to this new school?

    8. Who wants to run against Helen Rosenthal next year? says:

      Let’s make sure Helen Rosenthal isn’t re-elected in 2017. She barely won the Democratic primary in 2013. She won by only 1,276 votes (7,716 to 6,440). There are many bright and motivated people to run against her. Forget about running for CEC, let’s find someone to beat Helen Rosenthal next year. Let’s capitalize on the hundreds of families in her district that she fails to represent, that she has turned her back on, and do someting purely American, vote her out of office.

      • anonymous says:

        Amen!! Too many people have been betrayed by Helen Rosenthal. She has made it obvious that she couldn’t care less about the ordinary people in the District. We will vote for anyone who runs against her. Anyone. Can’t wait…

      • andybaggs says:

        I will personally stand outside the 72nd street subway and hand out flyers for her opponent 24-7 for an entire year if it means she is out. She is a complete disaster. The worst representative we could ask for.

    9. It my considered opinion that rezoning is ineffectual in helping poorly performing children read, write and do math on grade level.

      1. Identify the children who are having the most trouble.
      2..What socioeconomic are causing these problems.
      3. Go into the homes and see what remedial help can be offered and accepted.
      4.Is there drug addiction, abuse, neglect, lack of nutrition, poor discipline, emotional problems.

      5.Identify these children and give them the best teachers we have in smaller classrooms.

      6. Do not expect the teachers to correct years of poor parenting. The children need mentors and social workers.

      7. Keep mentoring these children. Children want to learn. They must be given the proper help and guidance.

      8. Rezoning and moving children around will only turn good into mediocre schools and make the poorly performing schools look better on paper. Our politicains will feel they have done something, until the next election.

      9. The net effect of rezoning will be to turn parent against parent who are jockeying for the good seats available

      10. Such cynicism and hypocrisy is unacceptable. Help these children. DO THE RIGHT THING.

    10. Anon says:

      Multiple media sources are reporting that the DOE will present its final rezoning plan at Wednesday night’s CEC meeting. Now we will finally find out if the DOE is willing to stand up to the CEC or if this was politicking/lobbying at its best.

      Stay tuned.