Thursday, December 07, 2006

Columbia Faces Two-Front Opposition to Expansion Plans

Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2006 09:57:31 -0500
To: "jordi Reyes-Montblanc" ,
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Columbia Faces Two-Front Opposition to Expansion Plans

The New York Sun
December 7, 2006 Edition > Section: New York > Printer-Friendly Version

Columbia Faces Two-Front Opposition to Expansion Plans
BY Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 7, 2006

Parents fighting a plan to put a Columbia University-affiliated secondary school in the same building as a Harlem elementary school have joined forces with residents battling a university plan to expand its campus farther north.

At a Community Board 9 meeting last night, parents from P.S. 36 were supported by a contingent of community activists fighting Columbia University's proposed expansion into Manhattanville as they fired angry questions at Department of Education officials about the plans to temporarily house the new school inside the elementary school.

The department, which will finance and oversee the Columbia Secondary School of Math, Science, and Engineering due to open next year, announced last month it is considering the elementary school, which is next door to the university, as a temporary location. Department officials have emphasized that the decision is not final, but parents were skeptical.
"Stop trying to snowball us and give us a clearly defined answer," one P.S. 36 parent said before storming out of the raucous meeting.

Part of the reason for calling the meeting was to push the department to include parent input and allow the board to learn more about the plan, the chairman of Community Board 9, George Reyes-Montblanc, who has been a leader in opposing the university's Manhattanville expansion, said. "The fact that the DOE didn't consult us really bothers me," he said. "We're not here to crucify anyone, we're just here to find out what's going on.

"Parents have said it would be inappropriate to put a secondary school inside P.S. 36, which serves 3- to 8- year-olds. The school is too small, they say, with toilets outfitted for smaller-size people and a low-ceilinged cafeteria that triples as a gym and an auditorium.

The principal of the new school, José Maldonado, addressed P.S. 36 parents for the first time, apologizing for not involving the community in earlier planning stages for the secondary school and assuring them that the school would be representative of the community.

Eventually, the school will be housed on land provided by Columbia University. Its expected location at 125th Street and Broadway is currently home of a McDonald's and the corner of a 17-acre area of Manhattanville the university is eyeing for an additional campus.

The zoning change needed to build the school there must first be approved by Community Board 9.

December 7, 2006 Edition > Section: New York > Printer-Friendly Version

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