The Department of Education (DOE) formally submitted its proposal for the $80 million school to the city on March 13, according to DOE spokesman Will Havemann. According to law, the City Council has just 20 days to review the proposal once it's submitted before voting on it.
Just five days after the DOE set the clock ticking, a Land Use subcommittee postponed voting on the proposed school at a March 18th meeting. This was the second delay, as the City Council already pushed back voting on the school earlier this month.
In a statement, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said the decision was made to allow more time for negotiation on the school - proposed for 74th Street and 57th Avenue in Maspeth - between the DOE and community representatives.
"My focus remains on quality of education. I strongly believe that parent and community involvement is crucial to a school's success," said Crowley.
At this point, the standoff largely comes down to the city's school zoning policy. The councilwoman and Community Board 5 have been urging DOE to include a local zoning provision in the proposal, which would give Maspeth-area students enrollment priority.
The DOE has agreed to give School District 24 students priority at the new school, but has stopped short on promising preferential treatment for Maspeth teenagers alone.
"We want to make sure this school is as useful as possible," Havemann said. "We don't want to spend scarce city resources on a school to be used just by a very small neighborhood."
Crowley, who has not wavered in her support of local zoning for Maspeth, said she remains committed to ensuring the school be built for the community.
"Our community needs a school to alleviate the dire overcrowding of classrooms," Crowley said. "I will only support a school that gives neighborhood preference to local students."
The proposal returns to the council's Land Use Committee and its subcommittee for separate votes on March 31. If both approve the school, it would move to a full City Council vote at the next stated meeting scheduled for April 8.
Havemann said DOE looks forward to completing the review and approval process. "We're eager to get this done as soon as possible," Havemann said. "We wished that it would have happened sooner."