In a celebration ceremony last week, students and investors gathered to welcome Harlem Children’s Zone new Promise Academy charter school. Located in the middle of St. Nicholas houses, the community center will officially open to students on July 8 2013.
Geoffrey Canada, CEO and founder of Harlem Children’s Zone, presided over the ceremony on Thursday, June 6. This new school stands five stories tall and will service about 1,300 students ranging from kindergarten to12th grade. With $20 million from Goldman Sachs and $60 million from the Board of Education, the brand new building will open for the next 2013-2014, school year. The academy will provide medical and dental care along with mental health care to its students. Free breakfasts and lunches will also be provided.
With the facility now complete and more information about the school being shared, St. Nicholas residents are beginning to give their reviews. According to the Daily News some residents are not too thrill about the changes in the neighborhood as a result of the school. Shanai Edwards, a St. Nicholas resident, was quoted saying, “they took out our park to put in a street. And they’re bringing a lot of traffic from people who aren’t from here.”
Some residents are also raising issue with the with the school because only about a third of the 100 spots available for the coming school year are reserved for children of the neighborhood. The rest of the spots going into a citywide lottery. The Daily News also quoted L. Graham age 52 saying, “we thought it was gonna be a school for kids from St. Nicholas, but it’s not.”
Canada says that he expected the neighborhood residents to have mixed feelings and opinions about the school, but he thinks time will show them that the school is meant for the neighborhood as a whole. Canada said that by next summer Harlem Children’s Zone would offer things such as free classes, ranging from GED preparation to cooking classes.
Mayor Bloomberg sees this new development in Harlem as a “prologue to taking this city so far forward and giving so much opportunity to so many kids.” Canada appears to have a similar vision for the school as he said, “we want to get the most disadvantaged kids and give them a shot.”
Mayor Bloomberg also encourages New York City voters to “exercise their franchise, votes for the next mayor and then holds the next administration’s feet to the fire.”