what happened at the meeting about K437 (mystery sparkle school)

Last night the D15 CEC (Community Education Council) held a meeting at PS 130 in Kensington to begin the process of community education and review. The topic was possible rezoning to relieve overcrowding in the surrounding school zones (154, 130, 131 essentially) and to determine what the heck is going to happen with mystery sparkle school on E.8th between Kermit and Caton.

It was a very crowded with neighbors and parents from Windsor Terrace and Kensington. The CEC invited Carrie Marlin, Director of Planning for Brooklyn Schools, and City Council-person Brad Lander, to speak along with Anita Skop District 15 Superintendent and members of the community. Here's the deal:

  • There will be some kind of rezoning proposal presented in the early fall of 2014
  • The Office of Planning and the CEC will take feedback on the proposal (I have seen them change the plan in the past after this stage, if a great case is made)
  • The formal proposal will be submitted for approval and within 45 days...
  • The CEC will vote on the formal proposal 

This should all be resolved by Jan. of 2015 so that the program that will fill K437 will be in the "Kindergarten Connect" process in Jan. when new students will apply for K there. The building is designed to serve 3 school communities; an elementary program, an unzoned middle school (catchment TBD), a D75 special needs program.

There are two lines of thought expressed by Planning about what might happen here for the elementary school:

  1. A new zone could be created. The problem with that is the location of the school at the border of the district. The school zones that need relief from their overcrowding are inconveniently far away (also the school would begin by growing vertically and it would be years before it would be at capacity). It is also very difficult to find a way to create a good demographic blend.
  2. 'Split-siting PS 130', which is ideally placed and a very racially and socio-economically diverse community. This is a plan that seems pretty popular with the PS 130 community and several people spoke in support. Their lower grades would be housed in their historic building on the west side of the Ocean Pkwy and their upper grades could be housed in the new building on the east side of Ocean Pkwy. This enables the beautifully diverse community to remain intact, relieves their overcrowding, fills more of the building in the first year and gives a school without a gym and cluster rooms some decent facilities that they have been lacking. This plan would also likely include some kind of rezoning to alieviate the crowding in surrounding schools.

The possibility of an un-zoned school (like PS 133) with some 'set asides' for a lottery was suggested. The response was that even with 'set asides' the lottery is a wild card. So, what you want in true diversity is not always what you get.

Other members of the audience spoke about their concerns about traffic safety and trucks on Caton, which is a really important issue and seemed to be taken seriously by DoE and the other officials.

If the current PS 130 is 'split-sited' it will go from being a tragically over-capacity school to being under-capacity in some degree. The zone will likely have to be enlarged to relieve the equally difficult overcrowding at neighboring PS 154 and something has to be done about PS 131 (a bit further to the west). PS 230's zone which sits between 130 and 131 is large and full (and split-sited) but they have in the past been able to take students from outside of zone. It is my opinion that it is likely (hmm, 'hedge much'?) that there will be some scooching of zone lines to shift populations at the tragically overcrowded schools into the schools (130 and 230) that may have some extra room available. Watch this space...

Office of Planning works with data. They have to use the numbers to track historical trends and while they have some indication of projections they can only really deal with the facts as they align in this moment. We are all standing on shifting sand in the Brooklyn real estate market, but they can't - because they are dealing with public funds and City requirements.

If you have an idea or opinion about this, please write:
CEC15@schools.nyc.gov
Brooklynzoning@schools.nyc.gov