She’s got a school in every port.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina is telling people around the city she wants to build a specialized maritime middle school in their backyards. The longtime educator told the Staten Island Advance on April 7 that the far-flung island is the “perfect place” build a middle school that would feed into the New York Harbor School high school on Governors Island. But she already told a Brooklyn state senator that Brooklyn — a hop-skip over Buttermilk Channel from the Governors Island school — was tops in her heart.
“She told us she wants the school in Sunset Park or Red Hook,” said Jim Vogel, a spokesman for state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Red Hook).
Farina told Montgomery to “just find me a place” for the school in her district several months ago, Montgomery told this paper.
The Department of Education is just playing the field, a spokeswoman said.
“A great deal of community engagement would have to be completed before anything could move forward,” spokeswoman Toya Holness said.
But the school must drop anchor in Brooklyn so local youth may learn much-needed maritime skills and land good-paying, sea-faring jobs, one sea dog said.
“Providing opportunities for all New Yorkers to have access to this job market is critically important if we’re going to build a healthy, robust maritime industry that reflects the diversity of the city,” said Tom Fox, who founded the New York Water Taxi and has worked closely with the Governors Island high school.
Funding for new schools is based on need, location, and grade level — and the city has not set aside money specifically for a maritime school, education officials said.
Montgomery’s staff is looking for sites with an eye toward existing buildings the city could inexpensively retrofit as a middle school, Vogel said.
“Finding a suitable space that can be built out would go pretty far towards pushing the deal forward, starting from scratch is more expensive,” he said.
The local community board’s school site-selection committee pointed out three potential sites for such a school in Sunset Park — one at a recently shuttered utilities building near the Army Terminal, and two on Second Avenue near 49th and 52nd streets.