School Over Shelter

CEC 24 Wants Glendale Site For Students

Community Education Council District 24 (CEC 24) voted during its meeting last Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Elmhurst’s P.S. 102 in favor of a resolution to develop a school on a Glendale site currently slated for a proposed homeless shelter.

District 24 members have expressed concerns that any influx of homeless families to the neighborhood will overburden an already overcrowded school district, and adopted the resolution in favor of a school site to formally state that position.

“CEC District 24 implores the Department of Education to work with the School Construction Authority, our mayor and the Department of Homeless Services to find an alternate location outside of District 24 for the proposed shelter so that much needed space be used and built upon, as a public school setting, to properly serve the current community of District 24,” the resolution said in part.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, Department of Education (DOE) officials, including the program manager at the office of Students in Temporary Housing, were questioned by CEC 24 members and residents on whether the DOE generally confers with the Department of Homeless (DHS) Services when a homeless shelter comes into a community.

Senior Executive Director of Guidance and School Counseling Lois Herrera said that while DHS does “look at data … placement of the shelters is not something they ask us about,” she said.

District 24 President Nick Comaianni said that DHS officials were invited to the meeting, but wanted to know “what questions were going to be asked,” he said. No representatives were sent.

According to Comaianni, DHS representatives wanted to know why their attendance was necessary.

“My answer was, ‘you didn’t show up at the last meeting, so how could you answer questions?'” he said. “At that point, they stopped returning our emails.”

At the Cooper Avenue site, one active chemical company remains in business, but two factories sit fallow adjacent. City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley said at a special meeting regarding the possible influx of students to an overcrowded district that the three sites combined would be a perfect fit for a new high school, something many members claim the community sorely needs.

Crowley said she has toured the sites with Comaianni and DOE officials and suggested last month that eminent domain laws could possibly be used to acquire the land.

Mary Leas, the director of external affairs at the School Construction Authority told the group at last month’s meeting that the DOE would only be interested in a school there if all three sites could be acquired.

In support of a school at the site, Glendale Civic Association President Kathy Masi announced she has begun a petition to the DOE urging the construction of a large pre-K through 12th grade educational complex at the proposed shelter site.

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