New York City officials unveils long-awaited rezoning proposal for Upper West Side
The city's final plan for rezoning District 3.
The New York City Department of Education on Wednesday released its final proposal to rezone schools on the Upper West Side — and advanced a new, separate plan to shift school zones in Harlem.
The Upper West Side proposal is sure to be controversial: It includes the city’s previous plans to move P.S. 452 to a new site about 16 blocks away, and cuts some families from the Lincoln Towers development out of the zone for high-performing P.S. 199.
Parents at both schools have railed against those changes in a fight that has forced the district to reckon with the fact that many of its schools are deeply segregated by race and class.
In the southern end of the district, the rezoning is needed to address those issues, according to the DOE, and to relieve overcrowding.
“The District 3 elementary school zones have long failed to reflect the neighborhoods served by schools in the district, and it’s our obligation to find solutions that provide the strongest learning environments for all students,” schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement. “This proposal gets at persisting issues around overcrowding and segregation.”
Along with the zoning changes, the department announced additional supports and a new gifted program for P.S. 191. The city’s plan to shift students to that school from nearby P.S. 199 has drawn sharp resistance from parents.
P.S. 191 has struggled on state tests; its students are mainly black and Hispanic, and poor. P.S. 199, on the other hand, is high-performing, majority white, and has a student poverty rate of less than 10 percent.
Additional elements of the plan for the Upper West Side plan include:
— A smaller zone size for P.S. 87, to help address overcrowding.
— A new proposal to move M.S. 247 from its current space at P.S. 84 into the space being vacated by P.S. 452. The move will allow P.S. 84 to potentially expand its pre-K classes and dual language programs.
In the northern end of the district, the city’s new proposal divides the zones lines for Harlem’s P.S 241 among three neighboring schools. The department has previously announced the proposed merger of P.S. 241 with P.S. 76.
While parents on the Upper West side have known for more than a year that a rezoning was in the works, details of the Harlem plan were revealed for the first time on Wednesday, giving parents there little time to weigh in on the changes.
The Community Education Council must vote to approve or reject the new zone lines, and members of the volunteer group have said they hope to have a plan in place by the time kindergarten applications open on November 30.
Joe Fiordaliso, president of the CEC, said he is disappointed that after months of debate, parents in the northern end of the district will have a relatively short time to consider the city’s plan before voting.
But, he said, a zoning decision is needed so that parents of next year’s kindergarten students know where their children will be headed.
“Our commitment is to make sure that their voices aren’t left behind,” he said.
This article was first published on Chalkbeat New York on November 9.
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