Volume 73, Number 6 | June 9 - 15, 2004

P.S. 64 gets its schoolyard back

By Elizabeth O’Brien

For the first time in more than a decade, students at the Robert Simon Educational Complex in the East Village have the full run of their schoolyard.

The School Safety Division removed the last of its vehicles from the lot this week, after parents and elected officials put pressure on the Department of Education with protests and letters.

“It’s a really happy ending,” said Lisa Donlan, mother of a seventh-grade girl at Tompkins Square Middle School.

The School Safety Division had used the lot since the 1980s, when only P.S. 64 occupied the school on Avenue B between Fourth and Sixth Sts. and the local headquarters of the safety division was housed in the building. Since then, the Earth School, an alternative elementary school, and Tompkins Square Middle School have joined the building, bringing its total enrollment to 800 students. The School Safety Division moved out last year but left some of its vehicles behind.

Recess at the building was carefully staggered to accommodate the three schools that shared a small playground designed for younger children.

In April, Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott pledged that the playground would be fully emptied by September. Parents pressed to have it cleared out earlier, so construction on a new playground could take place during the summer, Donlan said. Another advantage to the accelerated schedule is that eighth graders who participated in a letter-writing campaign can now taste the fruits of their efforts before the end of the school year on June 25.

Donlan praised the Department of Education for heeding their pleas: “They were really very, very accommodating.”

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