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News and Speeches

Chancellor Walcott and Local Officials Hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at P.S. 281 in Manhattan


P.S. 281 Opens with Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Classes and will Expand to Classes through the Fifth Grade 

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and local officials today held a ribbon cutting ceremony at P.S. 281, The River School, in Manhattan. The new, state-of-the-art building opened September 9 to serve 640 students in grades pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, as well as special education students at P.S. 94. The River School will serve students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade by adding one grade level each year. The new building is located at 425 East 35th Street in Midtown and will address a need for elementary seats in the neighborhoods of Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and Tudor City. The building has six stories and is fully air-conditioned and accessible for students with disabilities. It has 24 classrooms, a music room, art room, and a science lab with a demonstration room. There also are five classrooms for P.S. 94. In addition, the building has a cafeteria and kitchen, library, a ground-floor play area, outdoor play area on the sixth floor, a stand-alone gym and an auditorium.

Chancellor Walcott was joined at the event by Deputy Chancellor of Operations Kathleen Grimm, School Construction Authority CEO and President Lorraine Grillo, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh,  State Sen. Liz Krueger, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, District 75 Superintendent Gary Hecht, District 2 Superintendent Mariano Guzman, P.S. 281 Principal Nicole Ziccardi Yerk, District 75’s P.S. 94 Principal Ronnie Shuster, Network Leader Daniel Feigelson, and Executive Director of the Office of New Schools, Alex Shub. The $47.5 million contract award for the new building went to Hunter Roberts Contracting, and was designed by Mitchell Giurgola Architects.

“This new building meets the community’s need for a new elementary school and provides state-of-the-art science labs,” said Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “The building’s art and music rooms will offer students a well-rounded education as they prepare for middle and high school. We want all our students to have the opportunity to excel in school and be college or career ready.”

“I am thrilled that P.S. 281 is open and welcomed its first class of students this fall,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said. “When the plans for development at the Con Ed Waterside site were first contemplated, I strongly advocated for a school to be a condition of rezoning. Given the already overcrowded schools in this neighborhood, a new school was critical.

It is a testament to the effectiveness of the Department of Education and School Construction Authority that the school is the first building to be completed on the property, proving that there are times when government is more efficient than industry. This offers students in the community much-needed relief from overcrowding immediately and, when the rest of the site is developed, ensures that incoming families will find a beautiful new school waiting for them.”

“We are filling a need in a community that is growing, and we are delighted to open a new school in East Midtown,” Deputy Chancellor of Operations Kathleen Grimm said. “The school was built to allow it to add a grade each year and become a school for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.”

“The School Construction Authority is proud to offer a building with state-of-the-art classrooms, art and music rooms, and a science lab,” SCA President Lorraine Grillo said. “The new building is for the 21st century student.”

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of community leaders and the East Side Elected officials, Kips Bay’s students will enjoy a new learning environment to develop and thrive,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “When this land was rezoned as part of the Con Edison/Solow project, I was proud to be able to stand with the community to advocate for a new school and work with Council Member Dan Garodnick to negotiate this needed infrastructure, which will critically reduce overcrowding in our already maxed out classrooms. Today’s ribbon cutting is proof that with strong community-based planning, parental involvement and government collaboration we can give all of our children the education opportunities they deserve.”

“P.S. 281 will help solve the elementary school capacity challenges in Manhattan,” Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said. “This long-awaited school will help shorten the stressful waitlists that families with kindergarten-aged students continue to be placed on. By opening P.S. 281, the NYC DOE is taking a significant step towards fixing the longstanding issue of over-sized elementary school classes - a practice which teachers, parents and elected officials have worked for years to end.”

“This community worked long and hard to ensure that City rezoning along First Avenue in the 30s guaranteed the building of this new elementary school,” State Sen. Liz Krueger said. “I'm thrilled that it is finally open – but not as thrilled as the parents who are so relieved not to be facing continued school waiting lists for their kids. Kudos to all who played a part in making this a reality.”

“It is an honor to serve the children of Tudor City, Kips Bay and Murray Hill neighborhoods,” P.S. 281 Principal Nicole Ziccardi Yerk said. “Together with our students' families, we have a unique opportunity to build a school that responds to the needs of our learning community. When I am in the classrooms, I am energized by the sense of inspiration and enthusiasm conveyed from our educators, and more so, from our students. I believe The River School is a place where the possibilities are endless.”

“P.S. 94 is thrilled to be expanding their program in to P.S. 281,” P.S. 94 Principal Ronnie Shuster said. “Our new building is beautiful and will afford our students many wonderful opportunities for integration and socialization. We look forward to a strong and fruitful collaboration with our partners at P.S. 281.”

“I am so pleased to welcome the latest in a string of great new East Side elementary schools,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “This school was a key part of the rezoning plan we approved at the City Council in 2008. We have had to deal with overcrowded schools in our area for years, and P.S. 281 is a most welcome addition.”

“I'm very excited to join Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at the ribbon-cutting for our new P.S. 281,” State Sen. Brad Hoylman said. “I’d like to thank the Community Education Council for District 2 and its president, Shino Tanikawa, as well as the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority, for helping bring a new zoned school to Kips Bay. The opening of P.S. 281 will go a long way towards addressing the chronic overcrowding in our east side elementary schools. I’d like to welcome incoming Principal Nicole Ziccardi Yerk, the entire staff of P.S. 281, the PTA, parents and students to this wonderful new school and to wish the entire school community an exciting and productive school year.”

P.S. 281 is one of 19 newly constructed school buildings that opened this year. The DOE, which oversees the SCA, opened 164 new buildings, creating over 126,000 new seats since 2002.