Kids + Pets

Upper West Side parents say they're being "punished" by controversial school rezoning

By Virginia K. Smith | October 4, 2016 - 1:59PM 

The Upper West Side battle over a potential elementary school rezoning is only getting more contentious, as residents of Lincoln Towers have jumped into the fray.

Gothamist reports that some of the buildings in the eight-building co-op complex might be rezoned so that children living there will be assigned to PS 191—a neighborhood school with low test scores, complaints of unsafe conditions, and a largely black and Latino student body—instead of the coveted PS 199 and PS 452, which are largely white and more affluent. 

A petition from Lincoln Towers residents has garnered 2,600 signatures, and one parent who specifically bought an apartment for proximity to PS 199 said, "it seems that the people living closest to 199 are being punished by being sent to another school just because they want to somehow diversify the student body."

As we've written previously, Upper West Side residents have expressed concerns not just about school quality, but about property values, as many parents buy into the neighborhood specifically for its enviable school zoning. (Though as appraiser Jonathan Miller told us over the summer, given the evergreen value of the Upper West Side, "the move has the potential to impact property values, but probably not to a significant degree since there are other good elementary schools in the neighborhood.")

At least one parent at the latest meeting called into question the hysteria over the rezoning, telling the crowd, "We hold ourselves up as the Upper West Side. Politically progressive, intellectual thinkers. But this is not progressive. We are arguing about zone lines and passing up an opportunity to set up a precedent to be followed. I think we need to be brave." 

In any case, the Department of Education is currently looking at three different versions of the proposed rezoning, and Community Education Council president Joe Fiordaliso said last week, "I am not viewing this as the group that screams the loudest gets what it wants."

While it's not generally advisable to tie your real estate purchase solely to a nearby school zone—for the precise reason that these can and do change over time—as we've written before, waitlists are rarely as dramatic as they first seem, and rezonings that drastically affect your quality of school choices are comparatively rare.

And if you do want to do some research ahead of a purchase, you can call your local school's parent coordinator to get a sense of their general waitlist length and any potential rezonings, and check the minutes of the local Community Education Council for similar information.


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