New York Post


By DAVID ANDREATTA Education Reporter


July 17, 2006 -- As the city Department of Education awaits a multibillion-dollar court-ordered windfall to ease overcrowding in schools, it has rejected revamping a storied East Harlem school building - claiming the neighborhood doesn't need the seats. 

Now the building, the former PS 109 on East 99th Street, has gained the attention of the City Council, which quietly earmarked $1 million to convert the historic school into 65 housing units for artists.

"[The DOE] feels that by converting the building to affordable housing, the needs of the community will be met to a greater degree than they would if the building were to be reverted to a school," Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm wrote to the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development in March. A group called the Coalition to Save PS 109 is fighting to resurrect the school, which closed in 1996.

"You never give up public-school space, you just don't," said Gwen Goodwin of the coalition.