For more than two years, residents around 2865 Claflin Ave. in Kingsbridge have seen construction taking place at the former site of the Our Lady of Angels school. Rumors have been swirling as to who would occupy the renovated space.
The space, as it turns out, will be taken over by Lab School (P.S. 315), which will be moving from its current location at 2246 Jerome Ave., and is expected to open doors at the new site in the fall of 2017, according to a representative from the School Construction Authority who addressed a Sept. 27 meeting of Community Board 8’s education committee.
The move by P.S. 315, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade, received mixed responses.
Liz Thompson, vice president of the Kingsbridge Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association, disagrees with the Education Department’s decision. “We have three elementary schools 86, 340 and 307 and we have the annex of 86. I thought they would at least help those schools since they’re overbooked,” she said in a telephone interview. She did not attend last week’s meeting.
“307 needs a spot. They don’t have [a] playground. They don’t have [a] gym. Why couldn’t that school be put there?” Ms. Thompson said. “You think they would consider the schools in our area first and right in the vicinity and accommodate them.”
Marvin Shelton, president of the Community Education Council, said Education Department officials are “unclear on their priorities.”
“It would have made sense for the Claflin Ave. location to be used to ease the overcrowding in that immediate neighborhood,“ Mr. Shelton said in a telephone interview after the education committee meeting.
The Community Education Council is a volunteer organization that serves at the liaison between the Education Department and the public. It provides input on issues such as the district’s educational programs.
When he initially learned that the Our Lady of Angels space would become available in 2012, Mr. Shelton said that he recommended that the Education Department lease the location to help alleviate overcrowding in the surrounding area and, at that time, the Education Department “assessed it as non-adequate.”
Mr. Shelton has also seen P.S. 315’s current space on Jerome Avenue and said that there are problems with the site. He said the location was a former bowling alley.
“There was no outside visual access. It was a coffin,” he told the education committee meeting. He added that flooding problems with the space were brought to his attention at a CEC meeting in either 2013 or 2014.
Rev. Thomas Lynch of Our Lady of Angels church said Education Department officials asked him if the church would “at all be interested in renting out the building for a public school.”
“I thought it would be great because it would have the rhythm of school life come back,” he told The Press in mid-September.
Rev. Lynch said that he was not advised on which school the Education Department would move into the space. He did not attend last week’s education committee meeting.
The income generated by leasing the location would be used to help fund repairs to the church and support the archdiocese’s regional school system, Rev. Lynch said.
Ben Goodman, community relations manager at the School Construction Authority, said the change in location is being done because “315 is over-utilized in their current building” and that the Education Department would not be renewing the lease at Jerome Avenue.
Mr. Goodman said the renovated space would have one kindergarten classroom, eight classrooms and three special-education classrooms. Some of the things the building would also include are an art and science resource room, gym, library and cafeteria, he said.
While the new site will help to alleviate P.S. 315’s overcrowding, no additional seats will be added to the school. A 2014-2015 Education Department report said the school has 283 students enrolled and that it has a selective admissions policy.