Volume 17, Number 43 | March 18 - 24, 2005

Parents bring middle school zoning issues to C.B. 1

By Ronda Kaysen

Tensions over creating a new middle school for Battery Park City children flared up at a recent Community Board 1 meeting when several P.S. 89 parents voiced their desire to zone a middle school nearby for their children.

“I.S. 89 should be a zoned school,” 17-year B.P.C. resident Maria Ouranitsas told board members at the March 15 meeting, her third grader standing beside her. “Every child has a right to have a school in their neighborhood that they can walk to. It’s not right for a child not to have a choice.”

Currently, P.S. 89 on Warren St. in B.P.C. is zoned for the Battery Park City neighborhood, but the middle school that shares the same building, I.S. 89, is a testing school and open to any child in the city, leaving the Simon Baruch School on East 21st St. the nearest zoned middle school in the area.

In recent months, P.S. 89 parents have launched a campaign to zone a middle school for their children that is closer to home, with some parents suggesting combining the elementary and middle school on Warren St. into a K-8 school for the neighborhood.

At the meeting, many parents wore buttons created by P.S. 89 parent Dennis Gault that read, “Let’s make P.S./I.S. 89 our community school. A really big K-8 is great.”

“The community we have with the neighbors is amazing,” Kathy Galan, who has lived in B.P.C. for 18 years, told the board. Galan worries that her son may have to leave the neighborhood by subway each day to attend middle school. “Please help us stay together,” she pleaded.

Critics of the proposal contend that any rezoning efforts must take into account the entire C.B. 1 district, which includes every neighborhood south of Canal St. and the Brooklyn Bridge, river to river.

“This is not just a Battery Park City issue,” C.B. 1 chairperson Madelyn Wils told the parents. “We consider the neighborhood to be all parts of Community Board 1 and we look to see how all the kids can get a good education… To think that I.S. 89 is for Battery Park City is inappropriate.”

In September, the city authorized a new K-8 school for the east side of Lower Manhattan and an annex for P.S. 234 in Tribeca. The additional space will affect the zoning of the entire neighborhood, said Wils.

“We certainly advocate a locally zoned sixth grade middle school seat of all of our C.B. 1 youngsters,” said Youth and Education Committee chairperson Paul Hovitz. “We just need to be certain we’re not advocating a method of choice that excludes others.”

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has said previously that the east side K-8 will be one school, but the Dept. of Ed. has not taken up the zoning questions.


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