D15 rezoning and diversity- listen up

D15 rezoning and diversity- listen up

Those of you who live in the part of Brooklyn Heights located in D15, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, you need to be aware of this now (zones 261, 29, 38, 58, 32 15 and 676). I don’t want to hear -and I will- about how you were surprised by the rezoning plan in the fall and how fast this went down. It is way more transparent than I have seen with previous rezoning, with much more attempt at public engagement. Engage now! When you drag your feet, it is not their fault. There have been three public meetings so far (since April) and there will be several more, gathering parent feedback as well as informing the neighborhood. If you aren’t participating or staying aware, I don’t want to hear complaining.

Whether you are there or not, one of these things is going to go down. It would be better if you had a say. You may not get what you want, but you may get what you need - Mick Jagger

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Brooklyn Prospect Charter expands to Middle School in District 13

Brooklyn Prospect Charter expands to Middle School in District 13

We have been waiting for this for a little while now, but it is official. Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, the IB program that has been a staple in District 15 for years and has recently opened a K-5 program downtown in District 13, has announced that they are going forward with their 6th grade in fall of 2016. This new middle school will be called Brooklyn Prospect Charter School- Clinton Hill Middle. It is modeled after their Windsor Terrace Middle School and will be led by 3 Brooklyn Prospect veterans. As kids from the downtown elementary age up, they will have preference to a seat in the new middle school but since BPCS Downtown Elementary only goes up to 3rd grade in fall of 2016, for a couple years, BPCS Clinton Hill Middle will have seats open with priority to all District 13 families. Attending BPCS Clinton Hill Middle and BPCS Windsor Terrace Middle students will have priority to their IB High School program which has their inaugural 12th grade class this year.

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Update on Prek for fall 2016

Update on Prek for fall 2016

Public prek application season has started. Applications can be submitted online from 1/25 through 3/4 as well as in person or by phone. This is NOT a first come, first served process (it is crazy how that rumor persists). You are placed in early to mid May and then you are automatically placed on a wait list for any school that you ranked higher than the school you are placed in. There may be some new programs added during the late spring and you can apply to them in Round 2 (May2-20).

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new middle school talk!

Due to popular demand, I have developed a new middle school talk to be given on Thurs. June 25 at 7pm at Hootenanny Art House in the south slope. It is not location specific, so whether you are in D15 or any of the surrounding districts you will take away valuable information about how the process works and how to think about the middle years in general. My goal is to untangle the spaghetti of information and see the glass half full (which it is) instead of being fearful and anxiety ridden, which never ever helped anyone get a middle school placement.

Tickets are $30 and available here.

2015 prek round up

2015 prek round up

You have until Fri. April 24 to apply for Universal Prek.
You can apply online here or at a Family Welcome Center or by phone 718-935-2067
You can find the Prek Directories here but there are also Updated Directories with many new seats available.
I have listed some notable changes below. This is not a comprehensive guide. You need to scour the lists for yourself.

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PS 8's overcrowding

It is not new news that PS 8 is very very crowded and their kindergarten class may be "capped" in fall of 2015. That means that there may not be enough seats available for all in zone families at K. I have found, in other neighborhoods where this has been a problem (look to Park Slope and Kensington for Brooklyn prototypes), that the families who have the best outcomes are the ones who stop shaking their fists in frustration and try to affect change and/or avail themselves of the system which may also provide them with a wide range of school options. The DoE will do what the DoE will do, but they are not against listening and numbers will always get attention. You will feel frustrated through this process and rezoning (which will happen with a new plan or building) is always painful for someone.
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mystery sparkle school planning meeting

I call the beautiful new school building that is going up on E.8th between Kermit and Caton in Kensington "Mystery Sparkle School" because that new construction is always so gorgeous (and they change the numbers). PS 437 is a "working title".

There are some interesting doings down there and a promising proposed plan is surfacing. This may impact (in a good way - relieving overcrowding, providing improved additional facilities and maybe more spots for prek among other interesting benefits...) the PS 130 community among others. 

If you live in Kensington or Windsor Terrace, you definitely have a stake in this decision. There is going to be a meeting with the District 15 Community Education Council this coming Tues. July 15, 2014 at 6:30pm at PS 130, 70 Ocean Parkway. They will be discussing possible zoning changes as well as proposed plans for the Sparkle School.

Here is a flier about the event.

PS 133, School of Choice

Heather Foster-Mann, PrincipalI am sure you have heard by now that PS 133 (temporarily located in the St. Thomas Aquinas building on 4th Ave. and 8th St. for the last 3 years) has become a "school of choice" for both District 13 and 15. It will return to its old site (4th Ave. and Butler) in fall 2013 and move into a brand new much larger building.

There are a few changes. First, the zone for PS 133 has gone away. The few blocks that made up the zone have been absorbed into the neighboring PS 282 zone. We don't know exactly how registration will be handled but it is likely that if there are more people applying than there are seats available that there will be a lottery for the seats. It is a big school to fill and there will be lots of seats available.

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ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in district 15 for fall of 2013

We have been waiting for word on several changes that are expected to land on the neighborhoods (particularly Park Slope) before the new year. It appears that the DoE is flying some trial balloons. Let me stress that nothing is set in stone yet! This should be decided by Jan. of 2013.

  • Here are the players: District 15 schools that are full to bursting (321, 39, 107)
  • District 13 school, PS 133, that is getting a brand new and lovely, large building on 4th Ave. and Butler on the border of Gowanus and Park Slope - is moving back to that new building in the fall of 2013
  • St. Thomas Aquinas School building on 4th Ave. and 8th St. where the students from PS 133 are being housed until their new building is done, will be vacant for a new program in fall of 2013.
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public middle school seats for district 13 and beyond

You may have heard that a couple strong public elementary schools in District 13 have been granted permission to extend their elementary programs through 8th grade. The hope is that many of their enrolled 5th graders will remain in the schools for the new 6th grades, but some will move on to other district programs as well as the city wides or private programs. That leaves some seats available for District 13 families from outside of the elementary school. Applying to these schools is a win/win and gives you an extra choice.

PS 8 is holding two Open Houses:
Thursday 3/22 @ 6:30pm at the school (37 Hicks St)
Saturday 3/24 @ 2:30pm at the school
Their school will housed in the Westinghouse HS Campus in downtown Brooklyn. Admission priority will be given to families who come to one of the two information sessions. The "New Schools Application" is due back at your guidance counselor on Mon. 3/26/12.

The Urban Assembly Unison School (13K351)
This is a DOE program (not a charter) that will be co-located in PS 56. You need to submit the "New Schools Application by Fri. 3/23. This school is a progressive program with strong features of accountability and structure, utilizing learning formats of independence, autonomy and choice with small group instruction. Social/emotional learning will be addressed directly in the curriculum. For more information, contact Jennifer Ostrow, Director of New School Development at jostrow@urbanassembly.org

Community Roots Charter School
has a sign up online for a Wed. 3/28 info session
their new program will be housed nearby in PS 287. Applications must be recieved by April 1 to be eligible for the lottery. Fill out an online application here.

PS 20 and Sean Keaton

 Inside schools just reported,

"Sean Keaton, former principal of PS 20 in Fort Greene, was acquitted in a Brooklyn court last week of "menacing in the third degree," a charge stemming from an altercation with a teacher in the principal's office in 2009, Department of Education officials confirmed. But the DOE would not say whether Keaton would return to his post or whether the interim acting principal, Lena Barbera, would stay.

 Go to insideschools.org for the rest of the story.

ps 9 fights city hall and wins

PS 9, located at 80 Underhill Ave. has spent the past several years rallying the community and becoming the "go to" program in Prospect Heights for new families. All of this momentum seemed to be doomed when the city announced that they were phasing out MS 571, colocated in the building (not bringing in a new 6th grade in 2011), and adding Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School from outside of the district to the building. Since schools need to share facilities but don't use them at the same time, it would mean that strained facilities would now need to be shared between 3 programs, instead of 2. The DOE's plan was a very strangely inequitable allocation of space. From what I saw, the time allocated to the common spaces didn't correspond in any way to the numbers being served. What followed was months of contentious meetings.

A few days ago a group of parent advocates from PS 9 won an appeal to the New York State Commissioner of Education, David M. Steiner, requesting an annulment of the vote by the Panel on Education Policy (PEP). "The Commissioner found that the DOE did not comply with NY Education Law, and ordered that 'the resolution of the PEP approving the co-location of the Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School in the K009 building is annulled.' The Commissioner further ordered the 'DOE to be prohibited from moving forward with any aspect of the proposal regarding the co-location until the DOE complies with the requirements of the NY Education Law. Specifically, the Commissioner found that the DOE's Building Utilization Plan for the co-location failed to address 'how the proposed allocation of shared spaces ensures equitable and comparable use of impacted students.'"

Essentially, the DOE is back to square one. It would have to substantially revise its Building Utilization Plan and hold a new vote for proposal, which could still happen. What PS 9 now needs to do is to complete their plan for a k-8 expansion. For more information.

update on PS 133

I have been anxiously following the progress of PS 133. A new building is going up to accommodate the 300 seat K-5 school as well as 600 additional seats on 4th Ave. and Butler St. It is very unusual for the School Construction Authority to be late with a project, but the bad winter weather as well as drastic capital funding cuts have conspired to delay the opening until fall of 2013. This is a grave disappointment for the neighborhood which desperately needs more seats in both District 13 and 15 (the School Districts which provided the capital funds to build the school).

PS 133 is currently being housed in the St. Thomas Aquinas School building on 4th Ave. and 8th St. The good news is that the Archdiocese which had not been willing to discuss extending the lease on the St. Thomas Aquinas School building has agreed to extend the lease for an additional year. They have also said that they will negotiate for an ongoing lease to the building. Parents - now is the time to lobby for this building to become the Prek/Kindergarten Early Childhood Center that the district so desperately needs!

How do you do that? There is going to be a meeting with the DOE on Thurs. April 7, 6pm in the auditorium of John Jay HS to discuss local kindergarten overcrowding issues.

You should also contact the District 15 and District 13 CEC (Community Education Council). These are the community organizations that control zoning and are the parents' official voice to the DOE.
District 13
Kerry Ann Greene cec13@schools.nyc.gov 718-636-3212
District 15 Romaine Smith cec15@schools.nyc.gov 718-935-4267

PS 133 gets a French dual language program

I just got word through a parent that PS 133 (which is getting a new school building in 2012 on 4th Ave. and Butler) is getting a dual langage French/English program in one kindergarten class starting in 2011. There is going to be an open house at the school on Nov. 19 at 9am at their 211 8th St. (at 4th Ave.) location.

They will very likely have a language assessment, similar to the one at PS 58, to determine if a child can be considered a native speaker.

They are looking for a certified bilingual teacher - if you know of one, contact the Principal, Heather Foster-Mann 718-857-4810.

interested in a new district 13 school?

There is going to be a meeting with the principal of Arts and Letters Middle School about their proposal to extend the school to a K to 8th grade program. Allison Gaines-Pell will be meeting with interested parents and neighbors at the Coop School on Monday, May 24 at 9am. The Coop School is located at 87 Irving Place (between Fulton and Putnam, one block west of Classon)

PS 133

I went on a tour the other day (this blog is starting quietly enough). I saw a lovely school that is being temporarily housed for 3 years in a former parochial school on 8th St. and 4th Ave. in Park Slope. PS 133 has a relatively new principal (former teacher at 29, former VP at 11) who is full of energy and ideas, particularly to develop their science program with an urban ecology focus. The school is small and comfy (two classes on a grade one of which is CTT). It has wonderful expressive artwork, a full piano lab, a class full of new guitars. I watched a Studio in the Schools dance class and a school wide reading celebration. They will move in 2012 to a brand new 935 seat school that is being built on Butler and 4th Ave. at the edge of District 13.

I also went to a meeting this morning about the future of PS 133. It was sponsored by the 5th Ave. Committee. The Office of Portfolio Planning, SCA, Community Board 6, the Butler/Baltic Block Assoc., the 78th Precinct, the PS Civic Council, Councilman Steve Levin and other local government reps including D13 CEC members and representatives from PS 133 were in attendance. They discussed construction issues that will impact local residents and then the DOE rep announced that PS 133 would remain a single school community in the building. The school population would be made up of students from the current 133 zone and 2/3 of the population would be from a rezoned section of District 15. The school will be administered by District 15. This did not go over well with the representatives from District 13 and Mr. Levin who felt that this was new information that had not been previously discussed. Mr. Levin asked that the Office of Portfolio Planning revisit this decision. I just condensed a two hour discussion to a paragraph.

There will be another meeting to follow up on these issues on Mon. June 21 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Contact the 5th Ave. Committee for confirmation and location.

So, this is an issue in flux, but a very important one for local parents. Watch this space for more information. I am curious what the District 15 CEC thinks of this? I imagine this issue will shortly be at the forefront of many D13 and D15 parents' minds. However this turns out, I recommend that any interested parents tour 133. Call their Parent Coordinator, Ahmed Dickerson 347-563-5321 to find out the date of their next open house. You may really like what you see.