Friday, February 16, 2007

Public Advocate Talks to CB9

Columbia Spectator

Public Advocate Talks to CB9
Betsy Gotbaum Criticizes Changes to School Bus Routes

By Melissa Repko
Issue date: 2/16/07 Section: News

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum criticized the recent changes to school bus routes and Columbia's general project plan at Community Board 9's monthly general board meeting on Thursday night.
In commenting on the busing changes, which have angered many parents and left some children without an easily accessible way to get to school, Gotbaum emphasized that the Department of Education must communicate with parents, teachers, and students before making sweeping changes.

"I wouldn't trust [Chancellor] Joel Klein to charter a school bus," Gotbaum said. "The bus fiasco ... is almost behind us, but what is the next thing?"Gotbaum added that community members should contact her if they observed any changes in their children's schools. She also mentioned recent reports about school safety and adult protective services, calling the service for elderly people without families "a complete disaster."

Many CB9 members also voiced frustration with Columbia's draft general project plan, which rests on the presumption that the area of Manhattanville into which the University wants to expand will be declared blighted and provides for the use of eminent domain to acquire property.

Gotbaum said that it was problematic that the report had been privately commissioned by Columbia. She noted that she had toured the Manhattanville area.

"By the way, the public advocate was able to purchase a vacuum cleaner in our blighted stores," CB9 Chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc said.

"It's the best vacuum cleaner I've ever had," Gotbaum responded.

The board passed a resolution stating that it would write a letter encouraging the archdiocese to rent space in St. Catherine of Genoa church to Hamilton Heights Academy, a charter school that is looking for a permanent home. This would allow the school to move to Community District 9 from the space at P.S. 28 in District 12 where it is now temporarily housed.

Another resolution called for the West Harlem local development corporation, which is negotiating a community benefits agreement with Columbia, to hire technical experts to help with the negotiations.

The next CB9 general board meeting will be held on March 15.

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