DOE's revised school rezoning proposal

DOE's revised school rezoning proposal

Last night, the District 15 Community Education Council (CEC) hosted a meeting on the Department of Education’s proposal to rezone some elementary schools in Park Slope. The proposal has been revised based on feedback from previous public meetings. The new proposal eliminates changes to PS 39, and shifts the areas of the PS 321 zone that would be rezoned to a new school at the St. Thomas Aquinas school building (on 4th Avenue at 8th Street). The blocks of PS 107 proposed to be rezoned to PS 10 remain unchanged. You can see the newly proposed map here.

While the City Council does not have a formal role in the decision -- school rezonings are proposed by DOE and voted on by the CEC -- I have worked throughout the process so that everyone impacted knows about the proposal, has a chance to comment, and gets their questions answered.

This is a genuinely hard problem to solve. It understandably raises very strong feelings, and some of you are unhappy and frustrated -- especially those who are just learning today that they will be affected by the new proposal. Many of you have been walking your kids for years by school buildings you thought they would attend, and made some of the most important decisions in your lives based on lines that are now proposed to change. At the same time, school overcrowding at PS 107 and PS 321 is a very real issue. Given ongoing enrollment increases, the status quo is just not a viable option.

I appreciate that the DOE listened to comments from previous meetings and made changes based on them. While it doesn’t address all of the concerns raised, the new lines do show an effort to limit the number of schools impacted by the rezoning and to create a new zone that is as close as possible to the new school that will open at the former St. Thomas Aquinas building on 4th Avenue.

At the same time, I am calling on the DOE (and the CEC) to take some additional steps as part of this process:

  • New families would be affected by the revised proposal who haven’t been involved up to this point. I am asking the CEC and DOE to provide an additional meeting before the vote, to include these new voices.
  • Especially in its early years (as it is growing to be a full school), full-day Pre-Kindergarten classes should be included in the new school.
  • There are still many questions that people have asked of DOE -- about enrollment data, about diversity, about why an “early childhood center” won’t solve the problem -- that have not yet been answered. DOE promised answers in writing, and while I understand it has taken longer because of the revisions to the proposal, I expect to get those responses from DOE this week.

On Monday, parents in the new zone will have an opportunity to tour the new school building (which is bigger than many people think) and to meet the proposed principal of the new school, Elizabeth Garraway (a current assistant principal at PS 321). I have had the opportunity to meet with her, and I am convinced that she will be a dynamite school leader, committed to working with parents to nurture a vibrant school community in the best tradition of District 15 schools. I am confident that this will be Park Slope’s next great elementary school … but people should have an opportunity to see for themselves.

The meet and greet with Elizabeth Garraway and tour of the new school will be Monday, November 19th, 6:30 PM at the St. Thomas Aquinas Building (211 8th Street).

This has been a trying and stressful process for many in our neighborhood, and I know that many people remain unhappy with the proposal. I hope that you will keep reaching out -- to the DOE (brooklynzoning [at] schools [dot] nyc [dot] gov) and the CEC (CEC15 [at] schools [dot] nyc [dot] gov), and to me as well -- with your thoughts, questions, concerns, and ideas as this process moves forward.

Whatever the final result here, I look forward to continuing to work together with all of you. Passionate parents who invest in their schools and who have a deep understanding of how to make public education work for every student are what make our neighborhood schools so great.

Follow Me on Social Media