Help Save P.S. 109

We are asking people to write to concerned officials, elected and appointed, including Governor Eliot Spitzer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, urging the restoration, reopening and reuse of P.S. 109 as a publicly owned and operated school facility. We suggest you relay your correspondence through the Coalition to Save P.S. 109 at the address below. For further information, please visit our website, .

The children of New York City desperately need P.S. 109 to be taken off the chopping block and put back into service as a school within the public education system. School space in NYC is woefully inadequate, particularly in low-income neighborhoods like East Harlem/El Barrio, which P.S. 109 used to serve, and could serve again.

In 1999, the Board of Education closed the building, which stands at 215 East 99th Street, and assigned the School Construction Authority to repair, renovate and improve the structure. Shortly thereafter, the assignment was changed to an illegal demolition.

Gwen Goodwin responded by forming the Coalition to Save P.S. 109, which then not only stopped the demolition, but forced the School Construction Authority to repair the damage it had done so far in the demolition process. At the initiative of the Coalition, the building has been placed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places, securing landmark-type protection.

But the City has refused to put P.S. 109 back into operation, claiming it would be so expensive that it would be cheaper to erect a new school, even though a new building would cost at least twice as much, running into tens of millions of dollars more. At any rate, there are no new schools on the agenda, since the educational bureaucracy denies any need to even make up for the 1,200-student capacity of P.S. 109.

Making matters even worse, a current proposal apparently hatched in Allen Hevesi's NYS Comptroller's office, is to give the building away to real estate developers for conversion into an artist condominium! Not only is such a giveaway open to enormous temptations of straight-out corruption, but the building, if privatized, will lose its landmark-type protection. The giveaway is apparently bogged down in the pre-development stage, and stopping it remains an ongoing emergency.

New York City is desperately short of school space, and children are often crammed into environments architecturally and functionally ill-suited for educational purposes. In some cases, as in P.S. 72, the City is actually renting spaces in privatized buildings that used to be publicly owned school property, in addition to all the other expenses of operating a school.

In other cases, school buildings have dismantled "cluster space", including art studios, music rooms, science laboratories and gyms, and paved them over with regular classroom seating, in order to create misleading statistics and thereupon deny overcrowding.

A lack of school facilities destroys communities, because families that need public education cannot continue living there if they cannot send their children to school. Then again, could that be the point: To drivethe economically disadvantaged out of Manhattan?

P.S. 109 is a rare architectural treasure as well as a building superbly designed for the education of the young generation. Keeping it in mothballs is a problem not only to its immediate vicinity, but to the entire city, which distributes students to maintain population balances.

Coalition to Save P.S. 109 152 E. 100th St., #5E, NYC, NY 10029 Phone or Fax 212-534-0963
Issued July 11, 2007