District 2, which encompasses some of Manhattan's prime development turf, has chronically overcrowded elementary schools. Middle schools, often housed on the top floors of primary schools, add to the population pressure.
In a long letter to the Community Education Council, the DOE proposed short- and long-term responses to grade-school crowding -- including moving fifth-graders at jammed schools to less-populous schools two miles uptown, strictly limiting zoning variances, shifting classes to underused space at local middle and elementary schools, as well as plans to add thousands of new school seats and (possible) zoning changes. Safe to say, the issue won't be resolved in the next month, before school begins. For schools like PS 234, which is at 150% utilization, or PS 59, at 192%, close quarters doesn't even begin to describe it.
Local parents and school advocates want the DOE to consider another short-term option not outlined in their D 2 'blueprint,' which focuses on grade school crowding. A state-owned building at 75 Morton St., in the thick of the overcrowded zone, is on the auction block. Parents, teachers, principals, and local pols want the DOE to acquire the building for a new public middle school. (It's fully ADA accessible, to boot.)
Today at 5:30pm, parents and activists will rally in front of 75 Morton. We hope the DOE's School Construction Authority and Office of Portfolio Development are paying attention.