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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Community Activists Save The Spruce Street Middle School

    1. Spruce Street School PTA
    3. Petition by
      New York, NY


Move Forward with Planned Middle School Seats at Spruce!
The Lower Manhattan community was thrilled and proud when The Spruce
Street School opened its doors in September 2011.  As a symbol of downtown revitalization, it was particularly poignant that we moved into the Gehry Building blocks from Ground Zero and within days of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Even at this happy event though, the growing downtown population
and concerns about school capacity were in the minds of families and DOE officials.  To address these concerns, then Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, 
"There will be a middle school."  "You have my guarantee:  This will be a pre-K to 8 school.” (
From recent comments made by Chancellor Carmen Farina (, however, Spruce Street School families and the downtown community have been alarmed to learn that the DOE is questioning whether the planned middle school will go forward at Spruce.  We appreciate Chancellor Farina’s recognition that there are not enough elementary school seats in Lower Manhattan, and indeed, there should be a critical evaluation and plan to address the issue as Lower Manhattan has some of the fastest growing neighborhoods in America.  But the lack of capacity in Lower Manhattan extends past elementary grades to middle school as well.  Over the past two years especially, the District 2 middle school admission process has been a stressful and unhappy one for many families because there are just not enough middle school seats in District 2.   Eliminating the planned Spruce middle school seats to expand lower grades does not address the overall lack of capacity and does not make sense for District 2.  
The newly raised uncertainty over our middle school seats is particularly stressful at this time, as our first fifth grade class will open this September, and we are preparing our students and our school for middle school.  We have already started planning for our middle school with the formation of a middle school envisioning subcommittee.  We ask that we be able to continue with this planning with assurance that our middle school will open in 2015 as intended.
Chancellor Farina has made increasing family engagement a priority and said in her comments questioning the current planned school structure that she would not make any decisions without community input.  We, Spruce Street families, and the Lower Manhattan community need to answer Chancellor Farina’s call for input by coming together and showing our resounding support for the planned middle school seats at Spruce.
Here’s what you can to do to make our voices heard and get out our message Move forward with planned middle school seats at Spruce!
Tuesday, June 24 - Full Board Meeting - 6:00 PM 280 Broadway
Gibney Dance, enter from 53 Chambers Street.
Media will be there to cover this event. They are expecting a big turnout and we want to give them one. The public session starts at 6pm so you don’t need to stay for the entire meeting. Children are welcome so no need to get babysitting. MAKE SURE YOU SIGN IN. We need you there! Numbers count!
Wednesday, June 25 – 8:15 – 8:40 am
Media will be at this event as well.  Let your voice be heard loud and clear!!!  
Wednesday, July 9th 6:30 pm – Sign up and speak during the Calendar Meeting public session (usually about 7pm)
Every letter makes a difference.  Make your individual voice heard! See thesample letter below. 
DOE Contacts
·         Carmen Farina - Chancellor NYC Department of Education, 212-374-0200 :       
 or use this link Contact Chancellor Carmen Fariña here 
·         Mariano Guzman District 2 Superintendent (212) 356-3815
·         Jesse Mojica - Executive Director, Office of Family and Community Engagement, 212-374-4118:
·         Nancy Baez - Special Assistant to the Executive Director at NYC Department of Education, Division of Family and Community
·         Jennifer Greenblatt District 2 Family Advocate 356-3789
·         Drew Patterson - Director of Strategy for South Manhattan at NYC Department of Education: 
City Government
·         Contact Mayor Bill de Blasio here 
·         Morris S.H. Chan - Community Liaison for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer:
·         Margaret Chin - City Council Member:
·         Yume Kitasei - Office of Council Member Margaret S.
State Government Contacts
·         Sheldon Silver - Assembly Speaker,  212-312-1420
·         Paul Goldstein - District Office Director at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver,
·         Deborah Glick - Assembly Member 212-674-5153
·         Daniel Squadron - State Senator 212-298-5565
US Government Contacts
Community Board Contacts
·         Community Board 1 general email
Let her know you support the Spruce Middle School.
Chancellor Farina: 212-374-0200
Let them know you want the planned Spruce Middle School and you are dismayed with the lack of community engagement around this issue.  
FACE : 212-374-4118
Dear Chancellor Farina: 
I am a member of the Spruce Street School community and Lower Manhattan, and write to express my concern over your recent comments about re-evaluating downtown school structures including the potential elimination of the planned middle school seats at Spruce Street School. I would like to express my strong support of the planned Spruce Street middle school. I appreciate your recognition of the lack of school seats in our community, but I do not believe reconfiguring the school will appropriately address the issue since the lack of capacity in Lower Manhattan extends past elementary grades to middle school as well. Indeed, the lack of middle school seats is a problem throughout District 2, not just in Lower Manhattan. We were very happy and looking forward to working with you when at the start of your administration you stated your priority to increase parent engagement. You also stated that you would not make any decisions regarding downtown school configurations without community input, so I want you to know that I along with my community strongly support the opening of the Spruce Middle School in 2015 as planned. 
As you probably recall our school, which is just a few blocks from Ground Zero, opened its doors just days short of the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and for many families, the school symbolizes the successful revitalization of the community. We are all proud of our community and how far it has come and are thrilled that so many families want to be here. The uncertainty over Spruce Street’s middle school seats is particularly stressful at this time, as our first fifth grade class will open this September, and we are preparing our students and our school for middle school. We have already started planning for our middle school with the formation of a middle school envisioning subcommittee and know it will continue the superb education and bonding with our dynamic community that makes our school so special. We know the excellent schools are a reason that many families are drawn to the community, so it would be a shame if, after so much and having had many reassurances from the DOE about the middle school, there is uncertainty about the middle school at this late date.
[Your name]

  1. Thank you Tribeca Tribune's reporter Carl Glassman!

    Spruce Street School PTA
    Petition Organizer
    Many of us would not have realized our middle school might be in jeopardy without Tribeca Tribune reporter Carl Glassman. His article ( highlighted Chancellor Farina’s comments that made the opening of the middle school in doubt. He came to our school to hear what the parents had to say. He also tried to get to know families so he could write a better article that explored all the issues. We would not have mobilized so quickly without Carl’s help and we are indebted.

    Chancellor: Downtown Schools May Need to 'Grow In a Different Way'
    In an effort to ease the crowding crunch in Downtown elementary schools, Chancellor Carmen Fariña said on June 10 that "everything is on the table." The chancellor declined to rule out eliminating the planned 6th-to-8th grades at the Spruce Street School, now a schoolyear away from opening its 6th grade classes.
  2. Spruce Street Middle School will open in 2015!

    Spruce Street School PTA
    Petition Organizer
    Thanks to all who signed and supported the Spruce Street School’s petition to let Chancellor Farina, Mayor de Blasio, and the DOE know the community overwhelmingly wants to move forward with the Spruce Street Middle School and open in 2015. 

    We collected an astounding 412 signatures on our online petition in just 7 days and more than 700 names on our paper petition in just 3 days! 

    We would like to thank Principal Nancy Harris, Chancellor Farina, and Mayor de Blasio for making it clear that family engagement and community input is indeed a priority in the DOE with the current administration. We know that Superintendent Mariano Guzman and Drew Patterson from the Office of Portfolio Management met with our principal resulting in swift clarification and rapid communication to the families and we are very grateful they recognized and acted upon the distress of the community. 

    Many officials have shown unwavering support since Spruce Street School was just an idea and in particular, we would like to acknowledge Speaker Sheldon Silver for always making it clear that he would do everything he could to fulfill the promise of a K-8 school. Many thanks to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Margaret Chin, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and Senator Daniel Squadron for their support of the Spruce Street Middle School and their ongoing advocacy to address the shortage of public school seats in Lower Manhattan. The recent passage of the school overcrowding legislation sponsored by Speaker Silver and Senator Squadron is an encouraging and important step in addressing the ongoing problem of school overcrowding in Lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City. 

    Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee Co-Chairs Paul Hovitz and Tricia Joyce’s leadership in advocating for the students in Lower Manhattan was the inspiration for many who decided to become an active member of the community and participate. We would like to give a special thanks to Paul Hovitz for his extraordinary dedication to the students in the Community Board 1 area throughout the years. 

    Thank you to Build Schools Now, an organization created by downtown parent leaders to draw attention and address the problem of Lower Manhattan overcrowding, for practical advice and promoting a positive and community building approach to advocating for our school. 

    Finally, we would like to thank the downtown community and especially the Spruce families who in some way participated or provided support. We are not going to name any particular person because every person was vital and helped provide the fuel for our incredible momentum. Because we came together as a community we were successful in getting our voices heard.

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