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After years of lobbying, a Bronx high school scores a library

Principal Edward Tom unveiled the school's new library, which came after two years of lobbying for one.
Principal Edward Tom unveiled the school's new library, which came after two years of lobbying for one.
Grace Tatter

When School Construction Authority officials first stepped foot in the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics to build a $1.1 million library, Principal Edward Tom had some specific instructions.

“I told them not to think about high school libraries,” Tom said at a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the school today. “I told them: ‘Think Starbucks.'”

That directive, and SCA’s apparent willingness to oblige, have made their mark. Along with having couches and frosted glass, the library’s walls are cappuccino-colored, the floor tiles look like they were dipped in half-and-half, and the bookshelves and chairs are a dark mocha.

Funded by donations from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. ($660,000), and City Councilwoman Helen Foster ($440,000), the library is also outfitted with desktop computers, printers, and a SMART Board. The one thing it’s missing — a librarian — is in the planning stages, a school official said.

Tom approached Foster two years ago about building a library and doggedly pursued her and Diaz Jr. One of his students, a senior named Chandy Say, emailed former Borough President Adolfo Carrion and his successor Diaz Jr. every week until the office responded.

“He was like a pit bull,” Foster said of her first meeting with Tom. “He said this is what I need and this is how I need it. I give him kudos for being a pit bull for his kids.”

Wrapping up her remarks, Foster encouraged Tom to come to her for help with his next project, but he was already ahead of her.

“We’re looking to create a college readiness campus in the Bronx,” Tom said, outlining a project that would involve bringing together several small schools with different specializations where students could take classes at different times during the day, as they do in college. “And I could use all the support I can get,” he added.

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