The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will vote next week on a proposal by the NYC Department of Education (DOE) to temporarily move The Clinton School for Writers and Artists (Clinton) to The American Sign Language Building (M047). We are announcing today our support for this proposal.

This move was precipitated by persistent and increasing overcrowding that has taken place at 320 West 21st Street, which currently houses both PS 11 and Clinton. To address this growing problem, we convened a Clinton Relocation Task Force last fall with DOE, elected officials, the Community Education Council for District 2 (CEC D2), the principal and Clinton’s own relocation task force. Our goal was to try to identify a new permanent site for Clinton that would be ready for occupancy by the upcoming 2010-2011 school year in order to avoid the disruption caused by a temporary move. The parents especially worked hard to find a site, even prior to the start of the Relocation Task Force. Unfortunately, while the task force looked at various options, we were unable to identify a site that could be occupied permanently in the near-term.

The good news is that the Relocation Task Force was successful in finding a permanent site for Clinton at 10 East 15th Street, where a new school building will be constructed. We are pleased that DOE recently finalized the purchase of this site. Speaker Quinn looks forward to receiving the application for site selection at the New York City Council that if passed will complete this acquisition. Furthermore, DOE has also agreed to form the Clinton School Advisory Committee which will be made up of the Principal and PTA of Clinton, CEC D2, and the local elected officials. This Advisory Committee will allow all the stakeholders to participate in the design of the space at 10 East 15th Street and deal with interim issues or questions relating to the relocation of Clinton.

While we were successful in finding a long-term solution, Clinton needs a temporary home while the new school is built. We agree with parents that when overcrowding is predicted, DOE needs to start planning and consulting earlier in the process in order to avoid facing hard choices and disruptive temporary moves in the future. However, given the overcrowded conditions that both PS 11 and Clinton have struggled with already, and the projected growth in enrollment at PS 11, we reluctantly determined that it was untenable to support Clinton remaining in its current location for another year.

While the interim site that the DOE has chosen for Clinton is not perfect, and will require some accommodations on the part of the other schools in the building, we are confident that this proposed relocation is a viable temporary option and will not diminish the quality of educational services received by children at M047 or Clinton.

The American Sign Language building, located at 225 East 23rd Street, currently houses four schools: The American Sign Language and English Secondary School (47); The American Sign Language and English Lower School (PS 347); P138M@M047, a District 75 program; and Quest to Learn, a District 2 middle school that incubated in M047 for the 2009-2010 school year. DOE’s proposal to relocate Quest to Learn from M047 to the Bayard Rustin Education Complex for the 2010-2011 school year was approved by the PEP at its March 23, 2010 meeting.

PS 347 and 47 currently serve a mix of deaf, hard of hearing, children of deaf adults (CODA), siblings of deaf adults (SODA) and hearing students who are interested in learning sign language. These schools, with their rich 100 year history and tight-knit community, have made great strides in recent years which must be maintained during this transition.

Furthermore, we look forward to working with DOE to ensure that, following Clinton’s departure, PS 347 and 47 receive the support needed in planning for further expansion and capital upgrades to M047 as they strive to continue to grow their capacity for serving children in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

This is not a perfect solution, however this plan will continue to give each school the classroom space and other special instructional and support rooms they need without negatively impacting the educational services any student receives. We look forward to continuing to work with the community stakeholders and DOE as we prepare Clinton’s new permanent home at 10 East 15th Street.