GROUND-BREAKING FOR NEW HIGH SCHOOL REPRESENTS SEA CHANGE IN EDUCATION

Aug 22, 2002
Press Release

Today elected officials, education officials and community leaders for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the ground-breaking for the new Eleanor Roosevelt High School on Manhattan's East Side. Leading the celebration were Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields who created the Task Force for an East Side High School that brought all the parties together to work toward the creation of the new high school, set to open September 3, 2002 at a temporary location.

Congresswoman Maloney rejoiced, "Eleanor Roosevelt High School is about standards -the tough, rigorous academic standards that parents are now rightfully demanding. The school was developed by a task force of such parents, working with a group of District 2's best educators. I predict this will be the kind of school that parents throughout the city will be watching -because this school will become a model for what all high schools should be."

Borough President C. Virginia Fields said, "I want to commend upper east side parents, elected officials and educators for working together to make this school a reality. Some parents have been fighting for nearly a decade to bring an academically rigorous high school to this community. Their success proves that involved parents can really make a difference and can improve the educational opportunities available to their children."

Shortly after the Task Force was created, then-President of the Board of Education William C. Thompson, Jr. (now Comptroller) assured the community that the Board was committed to developing a school that would open in September 2002. "I am very honored and extremely proud to see the dream of this East Side high school become reality," Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. said. "This is a testament to commitment of community leaders, parents, and educators who fought for more than a decade to see this through. We should all be proud."

"It is a wonderful tribute to everyone who worked so hard on this school that it is opening on September 2002 as promised," said Maloney. "With an incoming class of 106 students, a remarkable principal, Susan Elliott, and an outstanding group of teachers, this will be an extraordinary school. I also want to recognize the extraordinary work of Deputy Chancellor Tony Shorris, District 2 Superintendent Shelley Harwayne and the other educators who worked with us. This school could never have happened without them. We also want to thank Alexander Karten, who owns the building. He recognized that this building will make a perfect site for a school and he remained committed throughout to the idea of making it a reality. Over the next year, he will be responsible for the construction work that needs to be done to build the school. "

While every member of the Task Force played an important role, Speaker Gifford Miller and Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz (Chair of the City Council Committee on Education) secured crucial funding for the school from the City Council. Maloney underscored the importance of the City Council's contribution saying, "No one was more supportive of the new high school than our two City Council Speakers, former speaker Peter Vallone and current Speaker A. Gifford Miller, who made sure funds were available to create the new school. Councilwoman Moskowitz was a tireless advocate who helped line up support for us to get that funding for this school."

Speaker Miller provided the following statement, "Education was my top priority in this past budget, evidenced by the City Council's motto: "Putting Education First." This high school will go a long way in restoring faith in the school system, but it's only the first step in easing overcrowding in our schools."

Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz said, "I am thrilled to finally be standing at the groundbreaking for Eleanor Roosevelt High School- an effort that has taken years and tireless work to come to fruition. This not only alleviates overcrowding in our schools but is a true victory for middle class parents and students of all races and ethnicities. In a system that has traditionally been geared towards at-risk students, this new high school creates an achievement-based college preparatory environment that has been missing. We have high hopes for the students that will attend this school, and know that this is just one step in education reform and a new era in New York City public schools."

Other Task Force members who participated in the ribbon-cutting included State Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblyman Pete Grannis, Assemblyman John Ravitz, former State Senator Roy Goodman, Deputy Chancellor Tony Shorris, Superintendent Shelley Harwayne, Principal Susan Elliott and seven teachers who will be teaching at Eleanor Roosevelt when it opens in September. Ms. Elliott and her staff have come to the ribbon-cutting from a scheduled retreat at which they are preparing for opening day.

Background

Two years ago, Congresswoman Maloney could hardly walk down the street without hearing from parents who were concerned about the availability of quality public education for their children. Parents wanted an academically rigorous school in their neighborhood. Maloney joined with Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields to form the Task Force for an East Side High School, along with other elected officials, representatives of the Board of Education and parents. Within a year, the Task Force obtained a commitment from the Board of Education to create a new comprehensive, college-preparatory high school, with an initial class entering in September 2002. The school is to be temporarily housed at the O'Henry Learning Center at 333 W.17, but will be moving to its permanent location at 411 East 76th street in September 2003. While Upper East Side elementary and junior high schools have had a strong reputation for excellence, there have been no local high schools to match the lower schools in academic achievement. By tapping into Community School Board 2's ability to develop excellent schools, the Eleanor Roosevelt High School is poised to become a truly outstanding local high school. Participants at the Press Conference

Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields

Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. (formerly President of the Board of Education)

Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz (Chair of the NYC Council Committee on Education)

Jessica Lappin for Speaker A. Gifford Miller

former State Senator Roy Goodman

Assemblyman Pete Grannis

Assemblyman John Ravitz

State Senator Liz Krueger

Deputy Chancellor Anthony Shorris

Community School Board 2 Superintendant Shelley Harwayne

Susan Elliott, Principal (and seven teachers)

Alexander Karten (owner of the building)