Columbia scales back, relocates planned Manhattanville public school

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Columbia University has scaled back plans for a new public school that
it had promised to build as part of its new Manhattanville campus,
inciting the ire of a community already on edge about the invasion of
the university’s construction crews. According to the Daily News, Teachers College Elementary had been slated to open in the fall as a pre-kindergarten-through-eighth grade school, but Columbia officials said last week that they have not been able to find a large enough space to house it, and will consequently only be able to accommodate kindergarten through fifth grade. What’s more, the first year of the school’s existence will be tried out across town in East Harlem, rather than the neighborhood it was actually intended to serve. “It’s a violation of the spirit of the agreement,” said Larry English, chairman of Community Board 9. “Columbia owes a greater debt to the community.” But Columbia, which is contributing $30 million to the new school, and the school itself, hold that the neighborhood change was a space availability issue, and that the situation is only temporary. “That’s temporary in capital letters, ” said Jim Gardner, a spokesperson for Teachers College. “It was space that was assigned to us by [the Department of Education]. We had no hand in this… it is our hope and our expectation that the permanent site will be in West Harlem.” [NYDN]