To the Editor: I attended the somewhat raucous Community Education Council meeting regarding the issue of overcrowding in District 3. What strikes me about this issue is the following: first, that parents from 199 seem to have an almost hysterical need to have their school close to their home. I don't get it. We took our child to P.S. 87, a commute of about 15 to 20 minutes. So did many of the other parents. We were glad to have a good school in the district. It didn't need to be across the street or down the block. Second, I can't understand why P.S. 199 wants to become a huge school. By gaining the Center School space, they would also gain a minimum of several hundred students at least. How will they attract gifted teachers like those they have now if the school becomes that much larger? What will happen to their class sizes? And do they have the facilities, i.e., playground, cafeteria, gym, to deal with such a jump in enrollment? Lastly, the interaction between students is beneficial to both. Center School kids are good role models for the elementary school children. Daily exposure to younger children is good for the Center School students. Of course Center School will survive if forced to move. But ultimately that is not the solution to this problem, and moreover, as acknowledged in the meeting, it is a SHORT TERM solution. If there is space in P.S. 9 for another elementary school, then why not simply make that the best it can be, and gosh, walking or riding the bus those extra few blocks might not be so bad. Katy Keiffer Center School Parent Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity. To the Editor: Thank you for the coverage of public school overcrowding issues in District 3. I am a neighborhood resident and a father of a 4-year-old girl who is a potential kindergarten student at P.S. 199 next fall. I appreciate Katy Keiffer's concerns with respect to (1) P.S. 199 children losing contact with middle school students, and (2) the potential for increased size to affect the educational experience (though I do not accept that it would necessarily be negatively affected). I have weighed those factors and believe that those potential concerns are outweighed by the importance of having our very young children attend school near their homes. Contrary to Ms. Keiffer's assertions, our desire to have our 5-year-olds and other young children attending school near our homes is not "hysterical," but completely natural and logical-hence elementary schools are neighborhood zoned as opposed to middle schools, which are not. I too attended the CEC meeting on Nov. 12, and it was quite clear that the "hysteria" was generated entirely by the Center School proponents-complete with hissing, booing, yelling and abruptly walking out of a civic process in a shocking lack of decorum. Their reactions are based on the notion that their middle school children-children who will not be attending the middle school at issue for more than another couple of years and who already travel-might have to attend the same school in a different building a handful of blocks away. Above all, we must remember to remain civil to one another as neighbors and fellow citizens of this great city-and as parents. For what we do and how we act is the message we send to our children. Rand J. Levin West End Avenue Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.
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