Plans aired for new Al-Manar Foundation elementary school

Apr 12, 2019

There is another one of those disputes over change in a little-known neighborhood in the old meatpacking district of Buffalo's East Side. The dispute involves a former Ukrainian veterans club on Clemo Street.

Clemo Street, you may ask? It is a short street off Clinton, near Fillmore Avenue. It is a community of perhaps 300 homes and an array of block clubs.

Credit Facebook / Al-Manar Foundation

The Al-Manar Foundation bought the veterans club there and wants to turn it into a school for around 50 kids, K-4th grade. While there was a public meeting with wide approval, some neighbors complained they didn't know what's going on and helped arrange another opportunity.

"Not a problem, but I don't think it was as open to the public," said Jacqueline Thompson, vice president of the local block club. "The majority of the public is close to 300 homes. I was told that 27 people attended, so it was only within that block and I guess they are saying it's open to the public. I really don't know how we can use the building as an assembly center, a place to assemble."

Al-Manar Foundation President Aminul Islam said the school will mix religion with modern education.

"I feel, myself, the only religious-only, for instance, there are many schools based on that," Islam told WBFO. "I have fear it's the outcome from those schools, those students from that kind of school, it does not fit with the society. This means that I don't want to see a religious background education and not having any job."

Islam has a doctorate in civil engineering and has run several Muslim schools, including Al-Rasheed in Lackawanna. He wants to open the new school in time for fall classes.

The project is before Buffalo's Common Council and could come to a vote on Tuesday. Fillmore District Councilmember David Franczyk said it is just another example of communities changing over time.

"That area has always been an immigrant area and so as the generations come and go in the area as new people come in," Francyzk said, "and that's what's supposed to happen. That's a good thing. It helps the City of Buffalo regenerate."

Islam said the school will mix all state-required courses with religious instruction and language lessons. It is near another immigrant school, started by the Turkish community.