Assembly Member O’Donnell has just introduced a bill in response to news that the New York City Department of Education is proposing the demolition of two Upper West Side school buildings and the subsequent construction on site of private high-rise apartment buildings containing the schools on the lower level. A6058 would legally require full community involvement in the decision-making process. The bill would make the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) mandatory in all similar circumstances, and add parent and community involvement requirements before the city may sell any school building or property. O’Donnell said:
This proposal by the Department of Education has very troubling implications and appears to put moneyed interests before those of our schoolchildren. This bill will help protect our children’s education by ensuring that those with the largest stake in it – students and their families – have a legitimate voice in the process, now and in the future.
While it is true the demolished schools will eventually be sited in the new high-rise buildings, the actual process of construction will immensely disrupt our children’s education, forcing them to move to new, unknown locations for years. I am also not convinced that these neighborhoods will be better served by the addition of these high-rises, which will only increase severe overcrowding at PS 199 and PS 191. Nevertheless, it is parents and community members who will best be able to guide us on this point. This bill will ensure that their concerns are truly heard and considered, not ignored for the sake of expedience or quick money.
Assembly Member O’Donnell is the only Manhattan member of the Education Committee. He is dedicated to passing bills that promote the equitable and excellent education of all New York’s students.