Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights parents demand something be done about overcrowding at P.S. 8

Meeting planned for Nov. 20

November 13, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Parents are demanding the city do something about overcrowding at Brooklyn Heights’ elementary school, P.S. 8. Photo by Mary Frost
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There was a time when P.S. 8, Brooklyn Heights’ only elementary school, was unloved and undersubscribed.

Those days are long gone. Principal Seth Phillips is overseeing a school radically different than the one he took over in 2003. Even with a new annex, P.S. 8 is now so overcrowded that even some zoned children may be shut out of kindergarten next year.

With several major residential developments under construction in the school’s zone and more in the pipeline, the PTA has planned a public meeting for Nov. 20, 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Hillis Hall, Plymouth Church, 57 Orange Street.

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Senator Daniel Squadron, Council Member Steve Levin, Assemblymember elect Jo Anne Simon and Estelle Acquah from the DOE Office of District Planning, among other officials, are set to attend.

Councilman Steve Levin told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday, “It’s a very serious issue and we need to come up with a collective solution. There’s a serious shortage of seats now. The numbers bear that out more in kindergarten, first and second grade than in third, fourth and fifth grade. That means we’re going to start to see a real squeeze, just in the classes we currently have.

“It’s a well-regarded school, and over the last 15 years it has seen a remarkable transition, largely due to Principal Seth Phillips,” Levin said. “We want to make sure that the Department of Education (DOE) and the School Construction Authority are with us in looking for new space.”

Parents Kim Glickman and Ansley Samson, co-presidents of P.S. 8’s PTA, said in a letter (and petition) to DOE that the elementary school was at 142 percent of capacity last year.

“The situation is almost certain to worsen with each year,” they wrote. “If recent numbers stay the same, each of the next three years will bring in six new kindergarten classes, while only three to four fifth grade classes leave. This is unsustainable. In truth, though, we are likely to experience additional growth. Recent reports indicate that between 550 and 670 more residential units are already planned and approved for DUMBO alone in the next two years.”

Besides being jammed in, kids have lost classrooms for drama and dance, and two pre-K classes were eliminated this year – despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to increase pre-K seats citywide, they say.


Residential development planned– but so far, no schools

Local officials want more planning for the growing area’s infrastructure needs.

At a Brooklyn Bridge Park board meeting in August, which focused on two controversial towers planned for Pier 6, Squadron and Levin honed in on issues like increased traffic and overcrowded schools.

Squadron pressed for a “comprehensive analysis” of environmental changes in the surrounding neighborhoods, including overcrowding at P.S. 8.

BBP’s board is still mulling over the need for a supplemental environmental analysis, board President Regina Myer said at the November meeting.

 “A lot of this new development is forcing the issue,” Levin told the Eagle, listing residential development planned or in the works at Pier 6, Pier 1, Dock Street, and other spots in DUMBO. “We’re out of pre-K space and don’t want a situation where we’re out of space for kindergarten. One success – last year we found space for M.S. 8, and it worked out really well. We need to be creative and work out a solution – all hands on deck and get that conversation started now.”

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