Charged up parents, politicians and UFT officials attended a rally on August 6 to demand that the Department of Education take over a state-owned building at 75 Morton Street in Manhattan for a much needed middle school. The building is up for sale.
The rally was held a day after Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott wrote to the Empire State Development Corporation, which owns the building, asking that the sale be halted and that the site be used for a school.
UFT Vice President Richard Farkas spoke at the event and predicted that the proposed school would be open in September, 2009. The DOE has the money to reduce class size, Farkas said, “but now we need the space.”
Irene Kaufmann, a parent advocate from District 2, claimed that the building could hold two middle schools with up to 800 students. The building is already compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and it has a huge parking lot that parents envision as a playground during the day and a community park after school.
The neighborhood schools are severely overcrowded. One parent said that 80 percent of the middle school students in the area are “exported” to schools outside the district.
A student from PS 41 addressed the rally and said it was “fun to imagine” being in a smaller class and to be able to walk to school.
Speaking in support of the parents demand were City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, state Assembly Member Deborah Glick, state Senator Tom Duane and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.