When our own Josh Kross took the mike to address Ms. Farina and Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, roughly a quarter of the audience stood with him, making a powerful statement in support of our school. Allotted just 30 seconds to make his point, Josh argued forcefully (and swiftly!), why the DOE and its subsidiary School Construction Authority must act as stewards of the safety and learning environment at our school.
Dishearteningly, Chancellor Farina and Deputy Chancellor Grimm offered no reassurances that they or their offices have any intention of protecting P.S. 163, saying there is little they can do to influence the actions of a private developer. Chancellor Farina went so far as to say that "there is nothing dangerous about the proposed construction" and that the real danger came from parents stirring worry among impressionable children. Parents in the audience were left wondering: With allies like this, who needs enemies?
There was no opportunity for rebuttal, and the PS 163 delegation was afforded just one opportunity to speak during the town hall. However, at the end of the event, Task Force representatives continued the conversation with Deputy Chancellor Grimm and Council Member Helen Rosenthal. When pushed, Ms. Grimm indicated she would meet with TFSS leadership to discuss our concerns. Ms. Rosenthal, who has pledged her support for emergency legislation to protect our school, was adamant that we continue our efforts and she called upon Council Member Mark Levine, who represents the district that includes PS 163, to act on the legislation.
We believe the strong presence of PS 163 families was an articulate defense of everything we hold dear about P.S.163. A former long-time 163 parent who attended the meeting remarked, "I've never seen such a showing of school spirit as I've seen here tonight."
Thank you to all the families, and teachers, who put aside other obligations, delayed dinner, and came out last night. It is your spirit that will keep the 163 sun shining bright.
-P.S. 163 Task Force for a Safe School
P.S. Check out DNAinfo coverage of the Town Hall!