new acting principal for ps 295

A lot of strong schools in several neighborhoods have been getting new principals for the past couple of years. Sometimes it is because the principal is retiring, sometimes they have been offered a position that is too good to pass up. Usually the school will do a search for the right candidate, inside their school as well as outside. Being a Assistant Principal is not like being "Vice President" or the first runner up for Miss America. They may be a likely candidate, but the job of Principal is not a natural career progression for everyone. More than half of the new principals below came from outside the school community.

Shout out to Lena Barbera at PS 20 in Ft. Greene, Eve Litwack at 107 in the South Slope, Rebecca Fagin at PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Eric Havlick at PS 154 in Windsor Terrace, and now Linda Mazza at PS 295 in Greenwood Heights.

I wrote about the process of getting a new principal in "When Your Beloved Principal Leaves". You can read more about Ms. Mazza on the school's website.

I loved this quote from an active PS 295 parent, "She really gets kids and understands how things work in the classroom--I'm so glad we'll be putting her experience and insight to work for the school as a whole (though, selfishly, I'm sorry to lose her as one of my son's classroom teachers!)"


Rezoning District 15, CEC meeting report

Close to 200 parents and neighbors crowded the PS 38 auditorium last night to hear proposed zoning changes to schools in Park Slope/District 15. Carrie Marlin, Director of Planning for the DoE, gave the presentation to present the proposed changes. The DoE is putting the presentation on their website later today for review for parents who were not able to attend.

Jim Devor, CEC (Community Education Council) President, explained that these discussions began almost 2 years ago around the collaboration between District 13 and District 15 to build a new and larger building in Gowanus to house PS 133. That building will be habitable in fall of 2013 and will become a “school of choice” for both districts. When the students assigned to the new construction vacate the small St. Thomas Aquinas building at 8th St. and 4th Ave. it will be available to District 15. Over time the conversation shifted to rezoning talks for the center and south slope for District 15 as it became clear that capacity issues at PS 107 and PS 321, two strong an popular programs in Park Slope, had reached a critical point.

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more on pta fundraising with ps 295

You may have seen the NY Times article about changing neighorhoods and school fundraising. I truly admire PS 295's PTA for going to the mat for their school and their out of the box creative fundraising. Whether it is the Portrait Press Fundraising Projects, Beat the Blahs Winter Concert Series, or Touch a Truck - you don't have to be a student at the school to love community there. So get ready, Touch a Truck is BACK!

Sat. April 28 noon to 5pm, rain or shine $5 per person, plus food available for purchase
at PS 295, The Studio School of Arts & Culture, 18th St. (btwn 6th & 7th Ave.)

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107 wait-list

Parents of prospective PS 107 kindergarteners in the south slope have been waiting on pins and needles to find out if their children will have a seat in the school in fall of 2011. There has been a wait-list of over 40 families who have actively been lobbying for relief and assistance in finding appropriate seats for their kindergarteners. Parents feel that they were blindsided and weren't able to prepare for this last minute wait-listing. If they had some warning, they could have gotten on the wait-lists at nearby programs (which are currently closed), applied for lottery or independent programs and lobbied for changes that could helped the population at the school. They are not the only ones, according to different reports, PS 39 and 196 among others are over capacity with in-zone families. In the past the children from PS 196 have been the only District 15 population that the DOE has had to place in other schools. Last year they were sent to PS 172, PS 124, PS 32 and PS 94.

One of the points that the community has been making is that the school had petitioned to remove the one prek class in the building to accommodate the k overflow with a new kindergarten classroom. The request was denied, but it appears now that it may be moved to a separate location. There was movement a couple days ago when 25 children came off the list. Reports are unclear about whether the school consolidated an upper grade class to open up a new classroom or whether the prek will be moved. So far there has not been much movement from parents enrolling their children in private school. There may be some relief when the gifted and talented placements as well as lottery schools (BNS, the Children's School and the Charter schools) are made.

Because of capacity laws (only 110 children can occupy the cafeteria at a time) the kindergarten classes will eat lunch in their classrooms. Lunch shifts run from 10:30 to 1:10. Unfortunately, this is not unusual.

The DOE has responded to requests to come to Brooklyn to discuss local kindergarten enrollment with parents on Thursday, April 7th at 6pm in the John Jay  auditorium on 7th Ave. between 4th & 5th St.

Lovin' 5th ave. from 11th to 25th

It is the last day of the month and I had to go get the car inspected. Usually, I grab a coffee at the Red Horse (6th Ave./12th St. - they also have great scones I think from Baked in Red Hook), drop the car with the St. of Ancient Silver Hondas (Mohammed at Bartroni on 5th Ave./24th St.) and go up the hill across the street to sit by Minerva in Greenwood
to watch the ferries go back and forth. But today we needed more work and I walked home, discovering and remembering some wonderful things along the way.

Officially the second best pizza in the USA is in a tiny ordinary looking store front named Luigi's (according to them, the first best pizza makers eat at Luigi's) on 5th between 21/20th St. Get the "grandma" pizza. If you don't enjoy watching them make it one pepperoni at a time go two doors down to Laurntino's for pastry (supposidely a former baker from Veniero's owns it). We heard that there were great empanadas along that strip and I think that I found them at La Boulangerie Lopez (20/19th St.). We have always taken out of town friends for a vodkha tasting at Adam's Liquors (corner of 17th St.). Don't go in asking for Grey Goose..."unless you are using it to kill rats". Try the Sobieski, Bull Grass or Honey Vodkha. Skip Eagle Provisions and go straight to Jubilat Provisions for your local Polish sausage fix (they smoke it in the back, or get the fresh which is garlicy and wonderful) - also great poppy seed loaf. Kumon has opened a new bigger location (15/16th St.) right across the street from the beautiful new home of Park Slope Schoolhouse (they should be moving in any moment now). I have been missing the Salvation Army that moved out of the big corner space on 13th St. years ago and was surprised to see a groovy new second hand store there, Life. They accept donations and give tax receipts for all clothes and furniture. It is staffed by volunteers and the proceeds go to Pediatric Cancer Research as well as other programs for children with serious illnesses. My daughters did all their tween budget fashion shopping at Rainbow and Mandees (12/13th St.) but Fresh (11/12th St.) is still the only place to get your skinny jeans. I was surprised at how many new little interesting bars have popped up like crocuses on the avenue and I am making a May 1st date with my husband. We will send off the first college check and then go for a pub crawl down 5th Ave.


Millennium Brooklyn at the John Jay Campus

On Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 6pm at the John Jay Campus on 7th Ave. at 4th St. there will be a public hearing to discuss the co-location of Millennium Brooklyn in the John Jay Campus.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6pm at Brooklyn Tech High School at South Elliott St. between DeKalb and Fulton there will be a Panel For Education Policy (PEP) vote on the co-location.

If you are interested in this issue you need to attend and speak up on the matter.

The DOE's proposal is outlined here.

And I have included this passage from their statement:

While there is not an immediate need to create additional high school seats in Brooklyn, the community has made the DOE aware of the need to provide more high-quality high school options. Allocating underutilized space to open a new selective high school in Brooklyn would expand the range of options available to students and families, and, in the long-run, would increase the number of students retained in the borough. Over the last few years the number of students enrolled in Brooklyn high schools has steadily declined, suggesting that students and families are seeking options outside of the borough that are better matched to their interests and needs. All students deserve access to an outstanding education regardless of their zip code. The DOE is committed to investing in schools that optimize student performance and ensure that every student graduates from high school equipped with the skills necessary to achieve success in college, careers, and in life.

Millennium 2

New High Schools are always coming online and are usually announced shortly before the New HS Fair in Jan. but news of Millennium II has leaked so Lisa Gioe made an announcement to her parents at MS 447 Math and Science District 15 last night.

Millennium 2 will be opening in the John Jay HS complex on 7th Ave. and 4th St. in Park Slope in Sept. 2011 with Lisa Gioe as principal. It will be a replication of the popular Millennium HS with the addition of an ASD NEST program like the one that has been instituted at 447. I believe that this may be the first program of its kind in a HS. It will also be an "advanced Exploratory Program supporting internships". It will not be a choice on the Main Round application. If you would like to add the school to your list of HS you can do it during the short period after the New HS Fair in Jan. when you are allowed to resubmit the application and add new programs that will be starting in fall. 

Currently MS 447 has two very experienced Assistant Principals, Sharon Mahabir, who has been with the school since its founding and Dawn Faraj who had also been the Math Coach and a long time asset to the school. One of them will likely be tapped for the 447 principal's job.

It will be interesting to see if the Millennium brand will draw more local families to the John Jay building. I am also concerned for the lovely and focused students from Research that I heard speak recently in support of their school. A co-location is always a rocky process, but it doesn't necessarily have to be one that harms the existing schools. I hope that all the programs will grow in strength with the attention that will be directed to the building.

Lots more boys born in 2004?

There is an interesting thread on the Park Slope Parents list serve musing about the number of boys born in 2004. There are reports that some kindergarten classes around the slope have twice the number of boys than girls. Several popular nursery schools have also been advertising that they are looking for girls and I heard of a threes program that is normally completely full of siblings was offering seats to girls. Is this all just an interesting anecdotal interlude or are there really way more boys under 5 in the neighborhood?

When I was a diaper changing mother of twins we saw cycles. All of the moms that had twins around the same age as my girls had girls, with the occasional fraternal boy/girl in there. A couple of years after that ALL of the moms had boys. It would be interesting to track. Is there a Phd thesis out there that needs to be written? Please get right on it.

The 14th St. Armory may be open by the spring

The 14th Street Armory Field House has finally been completed and has a sponsoring organization, which seems to have been the biggest holdup. The Prospect Park YMCA is partnering with the Field House in one of the city's largest community recreation and education centers. At the ribbon cutting, Bill de Blasio said, "by spring school groups and people in the community will be using the space." It has been said that local schools will get priority time in the facility. There are plenty of schools in the neighborhood without gyms that need a space for their phys. ed. programs.