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Counting Class Size

A tale of two schools

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New York

Two years after relocation fight, Center School cedes one room

Two years after the Center School vacated the building it once shared with P.S. 199 to alleviate overcrowding, the Upper West Side middle school is being told to give up some classroom space again. Administrators from the Center School and P.S. 9, which share a public school building at 100 W. 84 Street, agreed last week that the Center School would give one of its 11 classrooms to P.S. 9 in September. Department of Education officials said the building council made the decision in response to an enrollment increase at P.S. 9. Administrators from P.S. 9 were not available to comment. But some Center School community members say the DOE is sacrificing their school rather than add new school seats in District 3, where popular schools such as P.S. 9 have seen enrollments swell. They also view it as a continuation of a heated controversy between the school and the DOE over the school’s relocation. In 2008, the DOE told the Center School to leave the building it shared with P.S. 199 for more than 26 years to accommodate P.S.199’s growing class sizes. Parents and staff fought a pitched battle against the move. The actress Cynthia Nixon, a Center School parent, even accused the DOE during a public hearing of promoting racial segregation and classism. Roughly one-third of students at the Center School are African-American or Hispanic. Ultimately, the fight was unsuccessful, and since moving into the PS 9 building in 2009, crowding has been an ongoing problem for the selective middle school and its 224 students. Even with 11 classrooms, the Center School sometimes held electives, called “minis,” and literature seminars outdoors or in the school’s hallways and stairwells, according to Elaine Schwartz, the principal.
New York

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