DOE Press Release - 05/28/2009

School Closed in 2001 Will Reopen In the Former Our Lady of Good Counsel School Building on East 91st Street

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott today joined Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Jonathan L. Bing, Assemblymember Micah Z. Kellner, City Councilmember Daniel R. Garodnick, and City Councilmember Jessica Lappin to announce that P.S. 151 will reopen this September in a former parochial school building on East 91st Street.

The building, which formerly housed Our Lady of Good Counsel School, was secured thanks to members of the District 2 “War Room,” a taskforce comprising Department of Education officials, District 2 elected officials, and members of the District 2 Community Education Council and Community Board 8. The War Room worked to reopen the school next year at a site within the P.S. 151 zone. The new P.S. 151 will serve approximately 100 kindergarteners next year, significantly reducing the enrollment burden at nearby elementary schools.

Community School District 2 and the Board of Education closed P.S. 151 in 2001 for low enrollment and poor academic performance. Since that time, students living in the P.S. 151 zone have been placed by lottery in other Upper East Side elementary schools. The new P.S. 151 will phase in one grade at a time, and will enroll students in the P.S. 151 zone. Along with the more than 2,000 seats the Department of Education will open in District 2 by September 2010, the new P.S. 151 building will help meet the District’s need for school space.
“It’s gratifying that not even a decade after the Board of Education chose to close P.S. 151 in the face of chronic under-enrollment, we’ve seen a surge in demand from families who want to reinvest in their local public school,” Chancellor Klein said. “I want to thank the elected officials and parents who worked with us to make this new school a reality.”

“The opening of P.S. 151 next fall demonstrates what government, elected officials, and local parents can accomplish together,” Deputy Mayor Walcott said. “This partnership is a model for how we can work constructively with communities to solve problems quickly, and to improve the quality of our children's education.”

“Families on the East Side have been waiting years for an announcement like this,” Borough President Stringer said. “I want to thank all the parents, community members, and elected officials, and the Department of Education, for the effort that led to today’s announcement. And I want to make it clear that we will continue to work with the DOE to ensure that there is a permanent site for a revitalized P.S. 151, along with a plan to address waitlists and overcrowding in other Upper East Side schools and across Manhattan.”

“When I began working to site a school in this neighborhood more than a year ago, a lot of people told me this would never happen,” Congresswoman Maloney said. “But all the elected officials united on this issue, all the parents worked together to keep us focused, the Department of Education has been responsive, and the Archdiocese has been gracious in allowing us to take advantage of this opportunity. It is a great relief to families in this area to know where their children will be going to school this fall, and to finally have a school of their own.”
“I applaud the parents of P.S. 151 zoned children and the DOE for working together to identify Our Lady of Good Counsel as a location to incubate four kindergarten classes beginning September 2009," Senator Krueger said. “These parents have shown extraordinary leadership by organizing weekly meetings with the DOE to help find a solution to alleviate overcrowding on the Upper East Side. I look forward to continuing to work with the other East Side electeds, parents in my district, and the DOE on the remaining issues that contribute to the overcrowding throughout District 2.”

“I applaud the Department of Education for its efforts to reduce overcrowding on the East Side,” Assemblymember Bing said. “The school facility at Our Lady of Good Counsel will provide significant relief to residents of the former P.S. 151 zone. I have been proud to work alongside the DOE in recent months to find the best solution for our children.”

“Since my election to the Assembly, advocating for a new elementary school for the children of the Upper East Side has been my number one priority,” Assemblymember Kellner said. “I couldn't be happier with how responsive the Department of Education has been in making this a reality for the 2009 school year.”
“It has been a long time coming, and I am so pleased that the families of P.S. 151 finally have a place to call their own,” Councilmember Garodnick said. “We are thrilled to open a much-needed school, and we will continue to build on this success until we have solved the capacity issues on the Upper East Side.”

“Opening a new P.S. 151 has been a priority for me since the day I took office,” Councilmember Lappin said. “I am very pleased that these families will, once again, be able to send their children to P.S. 151. I look forward to working with the new principal and have very high hopes for this new school.”

“This will be a very positive development for the families and children who live in the area, and we are happy to be ‘good neighbors’ in the community,” said Monsignor William Belford, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York. “The Archdiocese of New York and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish are pleased that we were able to work together with the Department of Education in reaching this agreement.”

“I’m so happy that we’ve found a great location for P.S. 151, and I know that Samantha Kaplan will be an outstanding principal,” CEC 2 President Rebecca Daniels said. “I’m glad we were able to work together to resolve this important issue.”

“The students at P.S. 151 will be taught literacy, math, science, and social studies through an engaging, experience-based curriculum,” future P.S. 151 Principal Samantha Kaplan said. “Our students will sustain a sense of curiosity that is nurtured via a coherent curriculum that incorporates a neighborhood that is abundant with cultural institutions, historic landmarks and parks all of which provide authentic learning experiences. I am thrilled about the parent support and enthusiasm for this project and look forward to working with the community.”

“I am thrilled about the planned reopening of P.S. 151,” said Gabrielle Goldberg, parent of a student enrolled in next year’s incoming class. “I can now finally tell my daughter where she will be attending kindergarten in the fall. The weekly meetings we have had with John White and the Department of Education have kept the community involved and informed. The successful reopening of P.S. 151 should serve as an example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved when the DOE commits to working with and involving the community.”
The Department has reached a preliminary agreement with the Archdiocese of New York to lease P.S. 151’s new building on a short-term basis. The DOE is in negotiations with the Archdiocese to finalize terms.


New School for P.S. 151 Zone to Open in Sept.

After a decade in limbo, elementary school students will have place of their own

By Dan Rivoli

May 28, 2009
Parents of children zoned for the defunct P.S. 151 now have space for the upcoming school year.
On May 28, the Department of Education announced that the currently shuttered Our Lady of Good Counsel, at 323 E. 91st St. between First and Second avenues, will house the P.S. 151-zoned students. Parents have already chosen the new principal, Samantha Kaplan.
In the 10 years since the old P.S. 151 building closed, students were assigned to nearby schools via lottery. Parents and elected officials, however, have been demanding that a new school open to ease overcrowding in the Upper East Side portion of District 2.
“Families on the East Side have been waiting years for an announcement like this,” said Borough President Scott Stringer.
The department has tried to find space for these students, and at one time proposed moving nearby high school students to a new space in Harlem. That plan was quashed after parents complained that mostly minority high school students were being moved for white elementary school students.
Before these public school students enter Our Lady of Good Counsel, the building needs capital improvements after several years of being vacant.
Since a final agreement between the Archdiocese and city has not yet been reached, department spokesperson William Havemann did not comment on how much these improvements would cost or what exactly needs to be repaired. “Those decisions will have to be made in the near future after full review by the School Construction Authority,” he said.
The building was ideal for the city because it has already operated as a school.
Parents of the P.S. 151-zoned children feared that another year would go by before a permanent and adequate spot was found. But this announcement has eased their concerns.
“It’s a true testament of what can be accomplished by people talking and working together,” said Lorie Levin, the parent of a child in the P.S. 151 zone.
Levin was one of several parents who formed a group in March that held weekly meetings with officials from the department and School Construction Authority to find a new building for September.
“We have a group of parents who went to the Department of Education and asked to be part of a solution,” Levin said. “We’ve talked and communicated and worked it out. And our children will benefit.”