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Push to ease crowding by moving Clinton School draws ire

A plan aimed at easing crowding in District 2 has parents up in arms because it would force a popular middle school to move from its long-time home.

The plan would move the Clinton School for Writers and Artists to P.S. 33, roughly five blocks from its home on the fifth floor of P.S. 11 in Chelsea. The move was finalized at the end of last week just as the school’s parent-teacher association sent a letter to the Department of Education rejecting the placement.

Though parents and the department agree that P.S. 11 is too overcrowded for the Clinton School to remain there, there’s disagreement over whether P.S. 33 is an appropriate relocation spot.

In a letter sent to the DOE last Friday, co-president of the PTA Darren Taffinder asked that the Clinton School be given one more year at P.S. 11. Taffinder wrote that he and other parents couldn’t agree to a move to P.S. 33 without knowing how much space their school would have and without a promise that the move is temporary.

According to Taffinder, the DOE is currently looking to buy a building on 15 Street near Union Square that would serve as the Clinton School’s permanent home, but it could be three or four years before the school can move there.

“We want the proposal to be firmer,” Taffinder said. “We’re basically being asked to move to a location where we’re not really sure where we’re going to be situated, we don’t know how long it’s going to be, and they haven’t even purchased permanent space, they’re just in negotiations.”

Diana Darling, a parent on the Clinton School’s relocation committee, said the DOE should rezone the district to ease crowding at P.S. 11, moving some of that school’s students to the proposed new home for Clinton, P.S. 33. A DOE official said the department had looked into rezoning but found that few District 2 residents were happy with the idea.

In preparation for the Clinton School’s move to P.S. 33, most of the classes in a District 75 school, P.S. 138, will have to move out of the school to make room. A spokesman for the DOE, Will Havemann, said that only classes for deaf students at P.S. 138 would stay in the building. The DOE has not found a new location for P.S. 138 yet.

The episode is the latest conflict to arise as the DOE tries to shift schools in lower Manhattan to alleviate overcrowding.

A letter from Clinton School principal Joseph Anderson informed parents that the move to P.S. 33 had been finalized.

December 7, 2009

Dear Clinton Community,

Over the past weekend I had been in communication with both our Network Leader Ms. Sanda Balaban and a representative from the Department of Education, Mr. Jeff Shear. Later today an announcement will be issued by Chancellor Joel Klein and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott regarding the Department of Education’s decision to temporarily move The Clinton School for Writers and Artists to 281 9th Avenue and their commitment to securing a building of our own within the foreseeable future.

While a temporary move to 281 9th Avenue was not the most popular solution, I respect and thank the Department of Education for creating channels to allow the voice of our community to be heard, to have the concerns of our community raised, for the commitment to finding us a permanent building of our own, and for the promise of continued support throughout the remainder of the relocation process.

Our Superintendent Ms. Daria Rigney and our Network have been exceptionally supportive throughout the past few months, and I have complete confidence that they will continue to support our school throughout the remainder of the relocation process. I also have complete confidence in the faculty, students, and families of Clinton that we continue to put the needs of students first and will continue to be recognized as New York City’s Most Outstanding Public Middle School.

Once I receive the official announcement of the Department of Education’s decision from the Chancellor’s Office I will forward it to all community members so we may begin to discuss ways in which to best facilitate the upcoming relocation and ensure a smooth transition to our new home on 9th Avenue.

Change opens the doors to new possibilities. I am looking forward to collaboratively exploring the new opportunities ahead of us, to reflecting upon what matters most to us as a school community, and how we can creatively and positively capitalize on these new opportunities to sustain and strengthen our work as we move into a new space.

Thank you for your commitment to academic and artistic excellence at The Clinton School for Writers and Artists.

Sincerely,

Joseph Anderson

Principal

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