Brooklyn Heights

Draft plan for Brooklyn’s P.S. 8 and P.S. 307 rezoning revealed

September 2, 2015 By Claude Scales Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo of the Dept. of Education’s proposed changes to P.S. 8’s zoning lines. Eagle photo by Claude Scales

Kids in DUMBO and Vinegar Hill would move to P.S. 307

At last evening’s meeting of CEC13 Brooklyn, planners Greg Whitten and Jonathan Geis from the Dept. of Education (DOE) revealed a map (see photo) of a proposed change to the zone boundaries for P.S. 8 and for neighboring P.S. 307. The area shaded blue on the map is the present P.S. 8 school zone, which the planners noted is one of the largest school zones in New York City. It extends eastward through the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is cross-hatched on the map because no one now lives there. The P.S. 307 zone, shown in pink, is one of the city’s smallest, and the school is presently considered under capacity.

The proposed change to the zone boundaries is shown by the heavy line near the center of the map. It places the eastern boundary of P.S. 8’s zone at a line beneath the center of the Brooklyn Bridge overpass and abutment (both sides of Old Fulton Street are in the district) from the East River shore to the northern boundary of Cadman Plaza Park, continuing across that boundary to High Street, across High Street to Jay Street, then along Jay to Tech Place. From Jay and Tillary streets southward and westward the boundary is the same as at present.

The effect of this boundary change is to place all of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, which are now in the P.S. 8 zone, in the P.S. 307 zone. The effect on numbers of kindergarten enrollees at each school is drastic. A chart showed that presently there are 162 kindergarten enrollees at P.S. 8, but only 17 at P.S. 307. If the proposed boundary change is approved it is projected, based in part on planned residential construction in each newly defined zone, that enrollment at P.S. 8 will be in the range of 120-130, while P.S. 307 will be in the range of 115-120. Projected section counts for P.S. 8 are five for kindergarten and four to five for grades one through five; for P.S. 307 they are four for all levels. P.S. 307 is projected to have six sections of pre-K, while P.S. 8 will, as at present, have none. Boundary changes will only affect student entering in 2016 and after, and “sibling grandfathering” may be available for entering kindergarteners.

In order for the rezoning to be in effect for kindergarten and pre-K applications for the 2016-17 school year, it will have to be finalized by the end of this November. This means there is a very tight schedule for community input on the proposal. CEC13 will take suggestions or questions by email — it is suggested that they be emailed to [email protected] with copies to the superintedent, [email protected], and to the planners, [email protected].  CEC13 wants to have a plan ready for submission at a meeting at P.S. 307 on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. If the plan is approved at that meeting, CEC13 will vote on it within 45 days thereafter. It will then go to the superintendent for approval. If any significant changes are made to the plan after Sept. 30 — a subsequent meeting is scheduled at P.S. 8 on Oct. 20 — the 45 day period will commence anew.

Several P.S. 307 parents complained that they had not been made aware of the proposed change and that the comment period was much too short. City Councilmember Steve Levin reflected that concern, as did state Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. CEC13 Chair David Goldsmith said at the beginning of the meeting that he felt the opportunity for public input “falls far short of what is needed” and that the DOE “needs to do a better job of being proactive.”

Two parents from Concord Village expressed gratitude to the planners for keeping that complex within the P.S. 8 zone, but CEC13 board member Ben Greene said this was an aspect of the draft plan that he questioned.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. to reflect that it is P.S. 8’s zoning boundries that will change, not district boundries.