Amid furor over proposed Bayside school, city pol seeks legal changes

The School Construction Authority has recently come under fire for selecting the former Bayside Jewish Center for a 730-seat high school.
Image via Google Maps

Councilman Paul Vallone is drafting legislation aiming to directly address what many consider to be a lack of transparency in the School Construction Authority’s site selection process.

The legislation comes after intense community scrutiny on the agency’s decision to construct a proposed 730-seat high school in the former Bayside Jewish Center located on 32nd Avenue between 203rd and 204th streets.

Vallone has hosted several meetings with the School Construction Authority (SCA) and community stakeholders regarding the proposed high school. Residents are holding firm in their disapproval of the school’s placement even though efforts are being made to restrict the number of seats and allow community input in which programs would be offered.

The councilman is introducing two bills aimed at improving the school site selection process.

The first bill would require the SCA to provide annual City Council reports listing, by borough, potential school sites that the SCA has reviewed and deemed ineligible for a school. The second bill would require the SCA to enable residents to suggest school sites through the SCA’s website for consideration and review.

Vallone said increasing resident involvement is critical because nobody knows the community better than those who live there.

“Nobody supports the SCA’s site selection process and it’s clear that it needs to be changed,” he said. “Our continuing community engagement meetings have been critical in gathering input on how to fix this process while also better addressing our children’s needs and the overcrowding in our schools.”