As the Seward Park development project gets ready to go into action local activists, with the help of their elected representatives, have also been getting into high gear in their demand for a new school to be included in the Plan. The most recent development in this debate are local officials asking the Department of Education why the new school has not yet been included in the capital Plan for fiscal years 2015-2019.
The overall proposal, which was published earlier this year, includes a 15,000 square foot section at Clinton and Grand streets reserved for a school. However, the School Construction Authority has continuously refused to include a budget for the building. They say that there is no need for a new school building on the Lower East Side at this time.
A letter dated November 27 was send to the Chancellor Dennis Walcott of the DOE and to President Lorraine Grillo of the SCA. Part of the letter reads as follows:
“After sitting vacant for more than four decades, SPURA is now moving forward because of unprecedented collaboration with community stakeholders. Unfortunately, though the School Construction Authority included reference to the site in the DOE Capital Plan, it did not include a commitment to build a public school at the SPURA site. This is particularly disappointing given that the City included plans for a school in the project. The SPURA project will attract hundreds of new families to the Community Board 3 area. It is imperative that adequate infrastructure, including school seats, be developed ahead of this population influx. The City recognized this need – raised throughout the community consultation process – and a parcel of land is reserved for the construction of a public school at the SPURA site. It is important that the City take the opportunity to develop new school seats now, rather than facing the consequences of school overcrowding once it is already too late – as has happened in other parts of Lower Manhattan. We urge the DOE to amend its Capital Plan to include construction of a school at the SPURA site.”
The following elected officials signed the letter: State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
In addition to letter writing Community Board 3 hired a researcher to investigate neighborhood demographics and other relevant information to help determine the real need for a school in the area. It is expected that the report will be ready by early in 2014.