17, No. 18
9 - 22, 2004
City Explores Sites
For Celia Cruz School
By HEATHER HADDON
The Department of
Education (DOE) is investigating whether a permanent site for the Celia Cruz
High School of Music can be found after parents protested its move
from DeWitt Clinton High School earlier this year.
While now housed at Walton High School, parents of students at
the 2-year-old small theme school are upset that it was
abruptly moved after Clinton's powerful alumni association
On a recent edition of BronxTalk, the cable talk show hosted by
Gary Axelbank on channel 67, Cruz parents said the city was considering
moving the school to the site of a building on the eastern perimeter
of the Jerome Park Reservoir that once housed a demonstration filtration
That possibility, explored by the city's Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) angered some local activists. "You can't start
building schools in parks," said Anne Marie Garti of the
Jerome Park Conservancy, a volunteer group, noting that the DEP promised
to demolish the plant and restore the area as parkland. "We
would oppose it with full force."
But Cruz' chances of using the site appear slim anyway. According to
DEP spokesperson Charles Sturcken, the School Construction
Authority considered the building too costly to renovate.
"They said it wasn't worth their while," Sturcken said.
The DEP also proposed using a building at the Jerome Avenue
Pumping Station, just south of Tracey Towers, for a temporary school
site, which Sturcken says DOE also rejected. "They are
looking for something permanent," he said.
But DOE would not confirm or deny whether they are still
exploring those sites. "The community has been making suggestions
and we are looking into them," said Michelle McManus, a DOE spokesperson.
Cruz is one of several theme schools that the city seeks stand-alone
spaces for, according to McManus. "There are a few schools
in similar situations to Cruz that are being incubated in
spaces," she said.
But parents are less than thrilled with Cruz' temporary quarters.
"We don't want to bury it in Walton," said Soledad
Franco, a Cruz parent. Franco and many of the school's parents
are worried about Walton's severe overcrowding problem and its
reputation for being unsafe.
In a recent meeting with Superintendent Irma Zardoya and Deputy
Walcott, Cruz parents were encouraged to give Walton a shot,
according to Franco. "They emphasized that there have been safety
improvements," she said.
But parents are determined for Cruz to stand on its own.
"We're not giving up,"
said Franco, who is planning a fundraiser to pay for assistance
in identifying additional locations in the area. "We're
not staying quiet."
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