The Negligence of the School Construction Authority

The Negligence of the School Construction Authority
PS 36 Auditorium. Photo Credit: NYC Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr.

Bronx, NY - Monday, April 1, 2019--You should know that there is nothing more important for our future than our children. You hear politicians, families, and every day people talk about how much they love the children in their communities and how we must offer them every resource possible as they grow up.

Our schools are run by the Department of Education, but whenever a school must undergo construction they deal with the School Construction Authority (SCA). The School Construction Authority is not as well-known as the Department of Education, and until my time here at the City Council I wasn’t much aware of their existence either.

You should also know that the School Construction Authority single handedly limits and prevents the environment our children learn in from being safe and structurally sound.

PS 36 is a school in my district located in a 100 year old building with many facets of it falling apart. The Principal graciously requested my assistance in funding some of the much needed projects in the school, to which I was honored to do so.
You should know that I allocated $800,000 last year to help replace the beaten down auditorium seats at PS 36. That’s right, $800,000. It’s an astronomical figure, but it is the amount estimated by the School Construction Authority. My dear reader, you should know that a construction project headed by the School Construction Authority costs more per square foot than a high rise luxury apartment in Manhattan.

While the amount is something to awe at, I want to draw the attention on the timeline the Principal, families and children must wait for a project like this to complete. It has been nearly one year since I allocated those $800,000 and there has not been so much as a design update offered to the Principal. This project cannot stall any longer.

My dear reader, these chairs are in absolute dire need of removal. They are all loose, many broken, and some just completely missing. Many children have literally fallen due to a seat breaking from underneath them. When do we step in and decide to move swiftly? When a child is seriously injured? When a teacher or parent falls and sues the City for millions? I have proposed the solution, but the School Construction Authority is dragging their feet.

You should know this is not atypical. I have spoken to my colleagues in government and many other school principals and they all shared their frustrations about the School Construction Authority with me. Three, four, even five years are some of the time estimates I have heard for projects sometimes as simple as chairs in an auditorium. We simply cannot accept this as the norm, there must be change within the School Construction Authority and their process for school construction.

So Mr. Mayor Bill de Blasio & City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the ball is in your court, if we really love the children as much as we say.

I implore any of you to pay a visit to PS 36 in the Bronx and see for yourself the conditions poor students must endure as a result of the School Construction Authority’s sky high pricing and negligent operations.

This is Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz and this is what you should know.