Church/public school debate– told through Sunnyside Schools
While the city tries to exorcise the influence of religion from the public school system by evicting churches that rent school space for worship services, it’s sending thousands of children to spaces rented from parochial institutions, where students often walk past crosses and other religious images to get to their secular classrooms.
Landlords — including Thessalonia Baptist Church in the Bronx, Mission of the Immaculate Virgin on Staten Island and Yeshiva of Central Queens — rent to some 50 public schools to relieve overcrowding.
Many facilities no longer serve a religious function; Catholic schools, especially, have been closing at a rapid rate in recent years. But others still actively serve the communities they were built for.
“I’m Catholic, so maybe I’m just used to it,” Teresa Lamb said, looking at a large cross overlooking the pickup area behind the Public School 150 annex in Sunnyside, Queens, which houses the school’s kindergarten and pre-K in the former Queen of Angels Catholic School. The school, including its annex, is about 10 percent over capacity, based on numbers from the School Construction Authority.
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