The Bronx has been earmarked to receive funding for community schools in the recently passed state budget, and some local electeds hope to bring some of those dollars to Co-op City.
The governor has appropriated $5 million in state funds for the borough.
President of the 45th Precinct Community Council Robert Beider said he hopes to see at least some of that funding delivered to Co-op City as the chair of Community Board 10’s Youth Services and Education Committee, something he said has been talked about for many years.
“Co-op City has been looking for space for youth programming, senior programming, etc. for many years now, but the space has not been available,” Beider said. “Right now, the schools close at 3 p.m. and the community can’t use them.”
The education park, consisting of five schools, can host athletic programs, youth programs and possibly health services, he added.
“Montefiore Mosholu Community Center has a small (youth) program in Co-op City where they service 200 kids,” Beider said. “When I spoke to them about the possibility of opening up one of the schools, they said that in one day they could go from servicing 200 to 2,000 kids.”
The Harry S. Truman Educational Campus, formerly the Northeast Bronx Education Park, was built in 1966.
It includes two elementary schools, two middle schools and the high school.
Rodney Saunders of the Riverbay Board and a former school board president, calls the campus the “best kept secret in the city of New York,” complete with swimming pools, a large gymnasium and a planetarium used by local District 11 grade school students that is not open to the public.
During the 2004-05 school year, the mayor’s office got control of city schools due to changes in federal law.
The community lost the ability to schedule extracurricular events and activities at the campus, he said.
“When the education park was built, the emphasis was placed on use by the community, during school hours and after school activities,” Saunders said. “A community school was always supposed to be here. We lost it under mayoral control.”
The state funding is being allocated by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who represents Co-op City.
He said the department will post an RFP for the available funding in the coming months for non-profit groups to apply for, probably during the summer.
“We’re alerting the community, in particular Community Board 10 and the Co-op City community, that there are funds available for the Bronx for afterschool and community education programs,” Benedetto said.
Co-op City’s other state representative, Senator Jamaal Bailey, said being able to use an existing facility to add more community programs would be a boon to the area.
“With 60,000 residents by itself, Co-op City would be the 11th or 12th largest city in the state, so a place like this needs to make sure it has a recreation center for young and old alike,” he said