Letter regarding school capacity reduction of 133 seats for proposed MS & HS to be located at 10 East 15th Street
Dear Speaker Quinn;
Community Board Five would like to chronicle the sequence of events that has happened in the past year regarding the proposed school at 10 East 15th Street and express our concerns.
In 2010, The School Construction Authority notified CB5 that the construction of a new school was being considered at 10 East 15th Street. In May 2010 CB5 held a hearing and voted in favor of the proposed new school scheduled to contain approximately 300 Middle School seats and 550 High-School seats. CB5 approved the proposal and urged DOE and SCA to create more seats to serve CB5 growing school-age population.
The proposal was reviewed by City Council and it was approved on June 29, 2010, with a capacity of 866 seats.
According the real-estate website The Real Deal, as well as public records, the SCA purchased the site for $39 Million in July 2010.
The site allows for as-of-right hotel or residential development.
In June 2011, some residents from an adjacent building expressed their concerns about the planned construction at 10 East 15th Street. In July, we attended a meeting on this matter hosted by Councilmember Rosie Mendez for residents of the adjacent building, The Victoria. At that meeting, the Councilmember said she would do what she could to help the residents in attendance. In August, with no further consultation, and despite CB5 support for the initial proposal, the capacity for the proposed school was reduced by 131 seats, including 15 special education seats. CB5 was not previously informed, nor were we consulted about this change. No other group, such as CEC, or the Citywide Council on High Schools was informed or consulted on the matter either. Once CB5 heard of that reduction in capacity, CB5 made its opposition known.
At CB5's Full Board meeting in early September 2011, Councilmember Rosie Mendez's representative Barbara Sherman reported that the SCA and the Department of Education had conceded to pressure from residents of the adjacent building, The Victoria, for a smaller school at 10 East 15th Street.
We respect and understand the concerns of these residents, and we encourage the relevant city agencies to help mitigate the impact and alleviate their concerns, but we are greatly disappointed that the Councilmember and the SCA have chosen to listen to a small number of voices from one building, who represent a very small percentage of the residents in a district that spans from 14th to 59th. The now-proposed reduction of 131 seats (15 of which were to serve special needs students) from this new school is a disservice to the future of our community -- to our children and their families.
This issue is far greater than individual concerns of noise and views from one building. This is an issue of access to education for families throughout CB5. The district of CB5 is one of the four fastest growing areas leading us to be at a higher risk of overcrowding than many other NYC neighborhoods. Our community has outgrown its outdated image as a purely commercial district. The day has long since passed when we could afford to be overlooked in the planning for school facilities. Every year CB5's residential base rapidly increases. Every seat matters.
CB5 is outraged that school capacity has been reduced without being consulted when our position had been so clearly and loudly expressed over the years.
CB5 has requested that the SCA take the necessary steps in order to restore these 131 seats to the proposed school at 10 East 15th Street. Now, we ask you and your office to join us in pressuring the SCA to heed our request for increased access to schooling for our children.
We sincerely hope you take our position into consideration and will support us in the fight to restore the seats our community was promised.