DNAinfo: Nomadic PS 151 Hopes to Have a Home By Fall
By Amy Zimmer
March 8, 2011
Original available here
Parents will be carefully inspecting the hallways, classrooms and bathrooms of P.S. 151 when the two-year old school moves into its new space come September.
Though originally constructed as an elementary school, the building at 421 East 88th St. needs an overhaul once the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching vacates the premises to decamp for Downtown. That school had housed older students, and parents at P.S. 151, which serves kindergartners, have been concerned about the condition of the building and whether it was suitable for young children.
Department of Education officials told P.S. 151 in January their kids could move out of the former Catholic school space it leases and into Richard R. Green's space by the fall. But then parents went into a tizzy when officials recanted their promise last Thursday, seemingly out of left field, saying they needed to delay the move by a year, to allow more planning time for the new space.
Less than 24 hours later, the DOE changed its tune again, saying the move was back on because P.S. 151's incoming kindergarten class would be too big for the space it was leasing at Our Lady of Good Counsel at 323 East 91st St.
Parents were left with mixed feelings and a bad taste in their mouth.
"I'm relieved we're going to have the permanent space we deserve and need. I do have some reservations of how it will appear when we walk through the door in September," said Jackie Filler, whose son is currently a first grader at P.S. 151. "Is the building going to be an inviting, welcoming, warm, comforting place for children to walk into come September?"
When parents heard initially that the move was to be delayed, the rumor mill began to swirl. Some worried they would lose the space altogether.
Parents were particularly concerned, since they had been promised things from the DOE before. After they were told they'd get a new home for P.S. 151 in November, they were left hanging the following month when Richard R. Green had to vie with the selective downtown Millennium High School for new space at 26 Broadway — a fight that forced the Upper East Side elementary school parents into action.
"We know they are concerned," said DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. "We reiterated [to parents] we will work as quickly and openly as we can about what the renovations will look like."
The reason for the flip-flop, he said, was that when Friday's registration for kindergarten closed, P.S. 151 had 135 kids, warranting five classrooms instead of the four its current space can handle.
"We still need to define the scope of the renovation," Zarin-Rosenfeld said. "We're confident by September, even if we're not totally done with renovations, we'll still be able to accommodate the school."
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who fought to open P.S. 151 after seeing the exploding student population on the Upper East Side, was hopeful the school would be ready by the fall.
"At this moment, the only thing I'm concerned about is the breakdown of communication. It makes the parents anxious. It builds mistrust," Lappin said.
But she added, "They have six months…they certainly have the capacity to get this done."