CB 5 delaying vote on new high school

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The official Community Board 5 opinion on a new 1,100−seat high school proposed for Maspeth will have to wait until next month after the board decided to table a recommendation vote pending the outcome of a meeting between City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village) and city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

The board’s executive committee recommended voting against the project, noting that the plan could overwhelm the surrounding residential community, did not offer priority enrollment to students in the neighborhood and provided no faculty parking and no bus drop−off lane.

The vote was scheduled to occur at next month’s meeting. Crowley was slated to meet with Klein sometime this month, her office said.

“We had no statistics from the Department of Education on how many high school students lived in CB 5,” said CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri, noting the lack of information made it difficult to determine the impact the school would have.

At the meeting, however, board member Patricia Grayson announced that she had some figures. Of 69 high schools in the borough, 13 are in District 24, and only one, Grover Cleveland, is in Community Board 5, she said.

Dmitro Fedkowski, a member of Borough President Helen Marshall’s Panel for Education Policy, provided some other statistics. This year 3,600 high school−age students were enrolled in public high schools in District 24 and only 35 percent of those attend high schools in their general area, he said.

The sticking point was local zoning, which DOE officials have indicated is not an option.

“We have enough kids surrounding this area to fill the high school,” Fedkowski said. “This amenity is not something that comes around every day. We have through June to get this through.”

Other members had other, more fundamental objections to the school.

CB 5 member Robert Holden complained that the school would overtax a community that is not disposed to child−rearing.

“If you look at the numbers, 73 percent of Middle Village households do not have children,” he said, “and 69 percent in Maspeth do not.”

Board member Kathy Masi warned the board that the DOE did not stick to its promised plans when building a new high school in Glendale several years ago and doubted that the school would be built to the specifications suggested in last month’s presentation.

“I have no trust in what they’re telling us,” she said.

Board member Manny Caruana said the new school would hurt property values in the neighborhood.

“Who’s going to buy a home next to a school with 1,000 kids?” he said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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