Parents: City backing out of ‘Green School’ deal

Parents: City backing out of ‘Green School’ deal
Photo by Alice Proujansky

The city is reneging on its promise to move an overcrowded, makeshift school in an old apartment building into a new schoolhouse, according to parents and a pol.

Residents say that the Department of Education promised to move the 360 students from IS 30 on Ovington Avenue between Fourth and Fifth avenues into a new grammar school being built across the street, but now they claim that the city is telling them the move isn’t set in stone.

Officials also chastised parents for getting too excited over the possibility of setting up shop in the new building on the site of the infamous Green Church, parents said.

“We had a meeting in February. [The move] was definite,” said Laurie Windsor, the president of the Community Education Council’s District 20, which oversees Bay Ridge. “Then, in November, [the city] said that the Green Church is a not a go yet.”

Windsor claims that Department of Education official Carrie Marlin also said that the city was reconsidering the move because the new school did not have a science lab, a requirement for a middle school.

Efforts to reach Marlin were unsuccessful.

Ridge parents now fear that the stalled plans mean the city won’t move the kids from IS 30 into the much-needed new space.

“They put the brakes on it after it was a go,” said Windsor. “Usually a yellow light means that you’re about to stop.”

But a spokesman for the Department of Education said that the city never promised anything.

“We are considering the feasibility of moving IS 30 to the new building at 702 Fourth Ave., as long as it is consistent with our goal of increasing the number of elementary school seats in the neighborhood,” said the spokesman, Matthew Mittenthal. “We will be reaching out to the school community and parent council this week to discuss this possibility.”

IS 30 has been housed in the former apartment house for about 10 years, and parents say it’s been and problem since the start.

“All [the city] did was install appropriately sized chairs,” said Roland Roberts. “There is no gym; the cafeteria is very full.”

But another Education spokesman said that it isn’t uncommon for learning centers to be housed in non-school buildings.

“We have schools in interesting locations across the city,” said Frank Thomas, who added that not every school needs to have amenities like a gym. “Schools typically arrange to use an off-site facility for this type of thing.”

Still, the neighborhood’s councilman blasted the Department of Education for dragging its feet on the move.

“The city promised us space and I have the floor plans to prove it,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “Students have been forced to make do for nearly a decade in a makeshift school. We will not let the city renege on this deal.”

The former site of the Green Church has been haunted by controversy since the 109-year-old church sold out to luxury condo developers in 2008. The city bought the land soon after to build a school to handle an overflow of students in the area.

In 2010, then-Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott quietly granted school construction officials a zoning waiver — without public review — in a maneuver that the city frequently employs when it wants to build a public facility that could not be built under the current zoning. The waiver gave the green light to the 680-seat elementary school at the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues.

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at [email protected] or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.