By Julie Shapiro
The District 2 Community Education Council will find a way to zone Lower Manhattan’s schools and avoid a lottery, C.E.C. president T. Elzora Cleveland promised last week.
Cleveland spoke to Downtown Express after the C.E.C. failed to endorse a zoning option at a meeting last Wednesday night. The C.E.C. will try again at a meeting Jan. 27.
“The C.E.C. will definitely have a decision on Jan. 27,” Cleveland said Thursday.
Last Wednesday, the C.E.C. voted 5-4 in favor of Option 2, but neither Option 2 nor Option 3R received the six votes necessary to enact them. Option 2 is supported most strongly by parents in southwest Tribeca who live within a block or two of P.S. 234 and want their children to attend there, while it is opposed by northeast Tribeca parents who also want P.S. 234; Gateway Plaza parents who want P.S./I.S. 276; and eastern Financial District parents who are hoping for the Spruce Street School. Southeast Tribeca would go to Spruce under Option 2 and P.S. 89 under 3R, and it is not clear if there is a consensus on an option in that part of the neighborhood.
One member of the C.E.C., Diana Florence, was missing Wednesday night. Her vote on Jan. 27 could either put Option 2 over the top or tie the vote at 5-5. Florence declined to comment on her position.
Cleveland, who supported Option 2, said she knew Florence’s position but did not want to disclose it. When pressed, Cleveland said, “I am confident that one of the resolutions will pass.”
Cleveland then said she would not change her position and implied that she thought Option 2 would prevail, saying, “If need be, some members can be swung.”
Including Florence, the C.E.C. has 10 members, which is one short of the standard 11. The C.E.C. plans to induct a new member on Jan. 27 to round out its ranks, but Cleveland said it would be unfair to expect the new member to vote on the rezoning, which is complicated and controversial. She said the new member, who will be a parent of an English language learner, would not be admitted to the C.E.C. until after the zoning vote.
If the C.E.C. does not come to a decision by Feb. 1, the first day of kindergarten registration, then Downtown’s four schools will not be rezoned for the fall. That means parents will be in the same situation they were in last year: They’ll be able to apply to the schools they want, but they will not be guaranteed a seat. Schools that receive too many applications will hold a lottery and will distribute seats randomly, without regard for geography (though all siblings will be grandfathered in).
Danny Kanner, D.O.E. spokesperson, said the city doesn’t want to do another lottery any more than the C.E.C.
“We’re hopeful that the C.E.C. will approve one of the proposals,” Kanner said.
Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee will hold a meeting Tues., Jan. 19 to discuss the rezoning and possibly take a position. The full board could consider a resolution Jan. 26, the day before the council meets. The board’s view will be advisory, but it could be influential with some members of the C.E.C.
C.B. 1’s meetings will be held Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, and on Jan. 26 at 120 Warren St. at 6 p.m. The Community Education Council plans to vote on one of the options on Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at 333 Seventh Ave., seventh floor (near 28th St.).