With declining enrollment at a zoned K-3 school in the Bronx, the NYC DOE is planning to close it and send the students blocks away to PS 53.
Needless to say, parents are not pleased and on April 9, protested outside of CES 88, 1340 Sheridan Ave. Residents held signs saying “Save our school” and chanted “Don’t Close 88.”
A Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) planned to vote on the closure April 28, but it will now take place next month due to the opposition by the community.
Tom Sheppard, a member of the city school board, explained that while enrollment has been on the decline for the past five years, the pandemic has only made it worse.
“What parents are saying is you have other options besides shutting the school down and displacing the families,” Sheppard said.
According to Sheppard, there are two issues in play. CES 88 was originally designed for pre-k, but it doesn’t have it. So, if the DOE added pre-k, enrollment would increase.
Second, many families like the small atmosphere at the school and if the kids are forced to go to PS 53 they would be in a much larger setting.
“It’s the community’s position that there’s no good reason to close this school when all you have to do is add pre-k capacity,” he commented.
Among the people at the rally were Ava Garcia and her son Angel. They both stressed how they want CES 88 to remain open.
“It doesn’t matter how many students are in the school,” Garcia said. “What matters is the quality of education the children are receiving. This is the only school they have. Please don’t close the school for our community.”
Husein Yatabarry, who runs a nonprofit and went to the school from 1998 to 2000, is also against the proposed closure.
“CES 88 shaped my childhood and into my adulthood and now I work as a schoolteacher,” he said.
A DOE spokesman explained that it has been working closely with the CEC around this merger proposal to gather and address any feedback and will be adding an additional community meeting to ensure the people’s concerns are listened to.
“School planning changes are made in close coordination with the community, and in response to feedback, we are allowing for more time to engage with the District 9 community” she said. “We will host multiple community meetings to discuss this proposal and continue to work in partnership with families, local stakeholders and school leaders to ensure any concerns are heard and addressed.”