District 2 Parents Mull Latest Rezoning Plans

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Parents in Manhattan's District 2 have at least two weeks to study new rezoning plans, one covering Midtown East and another for Greenwich Village and Chelsea.

The Department of Education has outlined its plans to open a new school, P.S. 281, at 35th Street and First Avenue next school year. Also, their plans include splitting the West Village-Chelsea school zone shared by P.S. 3 and P.S. 41 in order to reduce overcrowding, and take into account a new school at the Foundling Hospital, slated to open in 2014.

Parents will have a chance to voice their opinions at the next two meetings of the district's Community Education Council.

The latest plans follow the rejection last year of two other rezoning proposals, sending officials at the Office of Portfolio Management back to work. In its PowerPoint presentations, linked above, the Education Department says both rezoning proposals would "allow for smaller average class sizes in the short run."

Shino Tanikawa, District 2 CEC president, said the district has seen five new elementary schools open in three years, and new schools are driving rezoning proposals once again.

"For the first time I think in Midtown East we will probably have enough elementary school seats," said Tanikawa. But she said that she fears that class sizes will still be large because of tight school budgets, and she was not as confident that the plan for the Village and Chelsea would alleviate kindergarten waiting lists.

"The projections done by the D.O.E. have been notoriously inadequate," she said. "It might be that the new Foundling school will have enough seats, but I am not sure if the D.O.E. knows where to actually draw the line so that all the schools actually have the right number of kids."

If approved, the rezoning for Midtown East would take effect next school year, while the rezoning for the Village and Chelsea would take effect in the 2014-2015 academic year. The proposals would only affect incoming kindergarteners or new students while children with older siblings at one of the affected schools could keep "in-zone" status.

The Community Education Council will hear feedback on both proposals October 24 at P.S. 3 Charrette School and on the proposal for the Village and Chelsea specifically on October 30 at P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto.