Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz - Looks to Unused Religious Properties To Fight School Overcrowding

In A letter to Department of Education, Bronx Assembly Member calls on city to consider acquiring vacant Catholic Diocese property to fight severe overcrowding and poor conditions at District 10 public schools
Dinowitz request comes as private developers target old churches and synagogues for condo development

   To fight the rampant overcrowding at public schools in the Bronx and around the city, New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz is turning to religion. In a letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, the Bronx Assemblyman is urging the city to consider purchasing an unused Catholic Diocese property to reduce crowding and address poor conditions at area schools.
"Private developers all over the city are snatching up unused religious properties to convert into condos. Buildings like Church of the Visitation were intended for the greater public good and it only makes sense that we consider them for new public uses," said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. "That's why I urge the Department of Education to consider acquiring this and other unused Catholic Diocese properties in the Bronx to help alleviate the overcrowding and poor conditions our children face."

In a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Assembly Member Dinowitz called on the city to consider acquiring a property currently owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Dinowitz writes that the former Church of the Visitation off Van Cortlandt Park sits "at the crossroads" of the zones for four local schools: P.S. 95, P.S. 7, P.S. 24 and P.S. 81. Acquiring this property, Dinowitz argues, would help alleviate crowding within School District 10 and provide families with a new state-of-the-art-facility.
As Dinowitz points out, there is a precedent for the proposal. Recently, the city relocated P.S. 315 from the southern end of District 10 to the former Our Lady of Angels School. Meanwhile, nearby P.S. 307, itself located in a former synagogue just three blocks from Our Lady, continues to suffer from serious maintenance issues that Dinowitz contends puts students at a "severe disadvantage." To address this, the Assembly Member has called on the city to find a similar solution as with P.S. 315.    

Both issues come as the local School District 10 faces serious overcrowding issues. According to a 2015 Independent Budget Office report, District 10 ranked as the most crowded school district in the borough at a time when 80% of city schools exceed state-mandated limits on class size.
Assembly Member Dinowitz has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce school overcrowding and secure resources for students. In recent months, Dinowitz has been at the center of the fight to address overcrowding at P.S. 24 in Riverdale. Just this week, Dinowitz and fellow legislators called on the city to allocate state education resources to increasing diversity at the city's specialized high schools.
To garner support for his school acquisition proposal, Dinowitz intends to address the local Community Board and civic groups in the coming weeks. For the veteran lawmaker, his responsibility to area school children is clear.
"Providing our children with the tools to succeed is one of my greatest responsibilities as an elected official. If we can't ensure students a quality education, then the whole community suffers," concluded Assemblyman Dinowitz.

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