There are a lot of students at P.S. 24 Spuyten Duyvil. Too many students, in fact.
While that might not necessarily be news, Steven Schwartz’s new plan to reach out and seek help from the community to solve overcrowding is. In fact, he’s taken his efforts straight to Community Board 8, hoping someone might have an answer.
He, along with members of P.S. 24’s parents association, recently attended Community Board 8’s education committee for support and feedback more than a year after the school lost annex space at The Whitehall on Henry Hudson Parkway. To help make up for the five-classroom shortage, the school converted its cold lunchroom into two classrooms, and created small spaces in other parts of the building.
Schwartz is asking for help to get an additional wing built onto the West 236th Street campus that could add 200 new seats with art and music rooms, and science labs.
Schwartz doesn’t have a rendering or a specific plan in place, but felt CB8 could at least help get the ball rolling since there is virtually no outside space available to lease, said Dan Padernacht, chair of CB8’s traffic and transportation committee, who attended the meeting.
“They said there were previous discussions of putting in a new building,” Padernacht said. “But there were concerns about doing a new building within the community where some people might not want a brand-new school built in the area or next to it.”
One idea that was floated in the past involved taking some of the Spuyten Duyvil Playground next door — a complicated plan not only from its lack of community support, but also because the land is co-owned by the education and parks departments.
Schwartz, in emailed comments, said the school is “discussing all possibilities” as it works to ensure “whatever plan we put into motion is something that will satisfy the needs of our children, both short term and long term.
“We did not expect any particular action to take place,” Schwartz said. “We only wanted the community to know that we are unified in this effort to obtain more space, and will begin working with all parties in a collaborative effort to make this a reality.”
The push could also help save some programs that tend to be the first targets whenever there’s a need to tighten the school budget belt.
“We must also consider the arts and science programs that our children love and excel at,” Schwartz said. “We must also consider space for students with the most needs who need space for their occupational therapy, physical therapy needs.”
Before any plan could move forward, however, the School Construction Authority must sign off. Created by the state legislature in 1988, the authority is responsible for the design, construction and renovation of the city’s public school buildings.
District 10, where P.S. 24 is located, has $270 million budgeted for school design, although the district didn’t provide details on how that money is spent.
The education committee listened to Schwartz and even invited him back when it had a plan in place.
However, no other action was taken because the committee lacked the necessary number of members to do anything. could also take no action because the meeting lacked a quorum, stated the minutes.
Some P.S. 24 parents also attended October’s meeting of the District 10’s Community Education Council, an advisory group responsible for evaluating the district’s educational programs and approving zoning.
“The tone was more, ‘What can we do to get an addition built on 24?,” said Marvin Shelton, president of District 10’s council.
Although there’s no plan in place, Schwartz said he’ll continue advocating for P.S. 24 expansion.
“The next step is to continue to talk about the priorities of our community in hopes of coming to a decision that everyone can get behind,” Schwartz said in an email. “There are many variables at work, and it is important that we consider the short-term impact as well as the long-term impact of any changes.”