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P.S. 123: Squeezed in and Squeezed Out

April 14, 2010

By Antoinette Hargrove, PTA President for PS 123 in Harlem
On Monday night, over 200 parents, students, teachers and community members crowded into a packed auditorium at PS 123 to get their questions answered about the proposed co-location of Harlem Success Academy 5 into PS 123.

To say the least, it was a chaotic night. PS 123 parents and I advocated for the DOE to allow our school to grow and Harlem Success Academy parents advocated for their new school to be placed in the building. Passions and tensions were high last night, and expectedly so.

Our school has been involved in what I would call a “complete failure” by the DOE to assess space and locate schools. What gets lost in these fights over space is the actual impact it has on students, teachers and their classrooms.

Last year, we went through a very similar proposal. The DOE proposed expanding Harlem Success Academy 2 in PS 123. We were told that our students would not be affected. We were told that there was sufficient space. We were told that we would still be able to expand our “A” school.

But, then classes started at the beginning of this year and we found the story to be much different.
As shown in the video I took, we have classes with students literally sitting on top of each other. Our library is now broken up into 3 separate classrooms, which the DOE claims to be sufficient. I don’t consider a space any bigger than a child’s bedroom to be sufficient for a 20 student class. I don’t consider a cubicle as sufficient space to hold a music class. I don’t consider holding two classes simultaneously in the same room as sufficient space.

I also don’t think that the DOE claim that our building is at 74% capacity is sufficient, when we have students sitting on top of each other.

There is no question why tensions were high Monday night. When we have to deal everyday with the ramifications of the DOE’s unrealistic space decisions, parents are going to be upset that their child does not have an adequate learning environment.

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