Could failed charter hold solution to school crowding?

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As Tech International is slated to close its doors at the end of the school year, community leaders are urging the Education Department to look into leasing or buying the space for a public school in the neighborhood to help alleviate overcrowding.

“I do not believe the building will remain vacant for very long, so it is important that the DOE consider this site expeditiously,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said in a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña dated Jan. 23, according to a copy provided to The Press.

The letter was a follow-up to Dinowitz’s initial suggestion to Fariña at a Jan. 10 meeting at the Kingsbridge Heights School (P.S. 86).

Dinowitz asked Fariña to consider the space for the Milton Fein School (P.S. 7), which is one block away, or for the Spuyten Duyvil School (P.S. 24), which lost its annex space last year. Although Tech International serves students from grades six through eight, Dinowitz said its space could also be used to accommodate students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Community Education Council President Marvin Shelton also pointed out to the Education Department that the space at 3021 Corlear Ave. was likely to become available. In a telephone interview, Shelton said that he alerted an official from the School Construction Authority—which handles the building, renovation and leasing of space for New York City public schools—at his council’s meeting on Jan. 19.

“I need seats,” Shelton said. Although there is “a high concentration of educational facilities in that area,” he said, many are overcrowded. A location that has already housed a school—the Tech International location on Corlear Avenue—would be a good place for a school because it is “all ready to go,” Shelton said.

Local residents and parents have complained about hectic traffic in the area—a problem that was alleviated slightly after the city installed new stop signs in January outside P.S.7, following multiple appeals by school employees and local politicians.

Before the new stop signs were installed on W. 232nd Street and Corlear Avenue, Dinowitz expressed concerns about traffic in the area. Tech International had a rocky ride in its five-year tenure. It had to deal with high teacher and student turnover and problems with student discipline, financial management and low test scores. Under a new principal in the fall of 2015, the school showed some signs of improvements, but decided to turn in its state-issued charter and close its doors at the end of the school year.

The school had 349 students in the 2015-2016 academic year, according to the Education Department.

The Education Department declined to specify whether it might buy or lease the location, saying in an emailed statement to The Press only that officials “will pursue all viable opportunities to bring additional high-quality seats to District 10” and were aware of the planned closure of Tech International.

“We have a large number of potential seats which could be ready in September,” Dinowitz said in a statement. “We would not have to wait several years for the DOE to construct a new facility.  It is urgent that the DOE act immediately.”

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