Parents and education council members are still divided over whether an impending co-location in a school on 136th Street and Broadway will make students' commutes shorter or will simply make a building that already houses two schools even more crowded.
“It still remains to be seen whether or not the co-location is meeting the needs of the community,” Miriam Aristy-Farer, president of Community Education Council District 6, said. “We've been hearing mixed reviews from parents.”
Though parents were also divided last fall when the Department of Education approved the addition of a 250-student middle school to the building housing elementary schools P.S. 192 and P.S. 325, many hoped that Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration would change co-location policies. Last week, de Blasio announced a moratorium on co-locating charter schools within public school buildings, but has not responded to a December lawsuit filed by parents against the DOE to stop all co-locations.
“These facilities are less than ideal,” Aristy-Farer said, describing trailers being used for classroom space for students at P.S. 192 and P.S. 325. “Is there really space for three schools?”
The current plan will add a sixth grade to the building this fall, with seventh and eighth grades to be phased in over two years.
Johanna Lantigua, whose son attends P.S. 325, said that the schools' resources are “very poor,” but said that without the new middle school, her son would have to attend sixth grade in East Harlem.
“He'd have to take buses and all that,” she said.
Alexander Garcia, whose two sons attend P.S. 325, and who grew up at the school himself, said there was a need for more middle schools in the area. He also said his son would have to take the bus to another middle school if the co-location didn't happen.
“The community is growing every day,” he said. “Better this one than the one we have to go to on the other side of Harlem.”
Like when the co-location was debated in September, parents have concerns about space and having first through eighth graders in the same building.
Korey Wildman, whose son attends kindergarten at P.S. 192, said he was concerned the co-location could lead to older students bullying younger students, but acknowledged the need for more middle schools.
“It's good to add more schools to the area,” he said.
Arturo Cordew, whose son is in fourth grade at P.S. 192, said the co-location is “too much of a hassle for the little kids.”
“They should find a better way to do this,” he said.
Several prominent members of the de Blasio administration, including Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito, lent their support to the December lawsuit, which had some parents and teachers hoping that current co-location plans would be halted.
The DOE did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the co-location situation at the school.
In the meantime, Aristy-Farer said that CEC6 has not heard anything from the DOE about solving the problems co-location might create.
“CEC6 is checking in on them. We want to be involved in the process. We don't want them to create schools without our input,” she said.
With the new school coming in the fall, some parents still seemed to know little about the impending changes.
Kay Jackson, whose son attends P.S. 192, said he has received “no letters whatsoever” about the co-location.
Courtnei West, whose son is in first grade at P.S. 192, was also unaware of the co-location. “I can't see them putting a middle school inside of here,” she said, looking at the school building. “It's too little.”
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