Prospect Heights

Parents invited to help design ‘M.S. OneBrooklyn,’ new Prospect Heights middle school, on Saturday

March 31, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Parents are invited to a brainstorming session to help design a new middle school next to Barclays Center, known as M.S. OneBrooklyn, at a Saturday workshop. Shown: Jonathan Marvel's vision for 664 Pacific St., the 26-story, market-rate rental apartment building where the 100,000-square-foot school would be located.  Rendering by Marvel Architects

Going up next to Barclays Center

Mom and dad, sharpen your pencils.

Parents and representatives of community groups in Brooklyn’s District 13 will have the opportunity to meet with designers and planners at 1 p.m. on Saturday to brainstorm the design of their kids’ new middle school.

The highly-anticipated large capacity, district-level middle school, known in its planning stage as M.S. OneBrooklyn, will be located at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street in Prospect Heights, next to Barclays Center.

Organizers say breakout sessions at Saturday’s event, to be held at the Brooklyn Public Library Central branch, 10 Grand Army Plaza, will allow attendees to “explore requirements for facilities, common space and street design to create a 21st century learning environment.” Attendees will also discuss safety concerns in the busy Barclays neighborhood.

The results of the workshop will be compiled into a report for presentation to the Department of Education (DOE) and the School Construction Authority.

In late January, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña rocked a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Newsmaker event with the news that the dedicated 600-seat school was coming to Prospect Heights.

The announcement thrilled parents who had been working for more than a year to convince the DOE that a stand-alone middle school (grades 6 to 8) was needed.

Parents are working to design the school “from the ground up” to be optimal for middle school students and to take advantage of the area’s booming cultural and technology scene.

The idea of strong parent advocacy in the creation of a public school has gained traction during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, says P.S. 9 parent Maggie Spillane, a member of Community Education Council 13 and of the M.S. OneBrooklyn organizing team.

“Under Mayor de Blasio, the DOE has become more receptive to community input in school planning,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday.

“There is not really a template for what we are doing, especially with regard to school construction involving public-private partnerships,” she said. “However, there is certainly a long tradition of communities advocating strongly for new school construction that is responsive to diverse needs, including most recently the 75 Morton Community Alliance in District 2 in Manhattan.”

“As with all new schools, we will work closely with the CEC, families, elected officials and staff to ensure that the new school is meeting the needs of the community and providing a supportive learning environment for students to thrive,” DOE spokesperson Toya Holness said late Thursday.

School to be located in a 26-story apartment building

The school will be built at a site in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park complex formerly called B15, now known as 664 Pacific. The city originally intended to house both an elementary school and a smaller middle school there.

Located in a market-rate, 26-story apartment building, the school and residential space are “essentially two buildings,” architect Jonathan Marvel said in December.

Five floors of the school will be above ground and two will be in the basement. The school entrance will be on Sixth Avenue, and the residential entrance on Pacific Street.

The building will be set back 23 feet to create a wider-than-required sidewalk for kids to line up outside the school, Marvel said.

The dedicated middle school will be a first for the district, which has several smaller middle schools but nothing on this scale.

When Atlantic Yards was approved in 2006, part of the project’s agreements called for the developer to provide a public school facility in one of the buildings. 

Catching up with Brooklyn’s burgeoning development

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Executive Director Tucker Reed said at a community board meeting last month that Downtown schools have been hard pressed by Brooklyn’s development boom.

A recent report by the Independent Budget Office, however, indicates that school districts across Brooklyn are set to receive more school seats to accommodate this increase. The three Brooklyn districts that will gain the most seats in the new plan are districts 15, 13 and 19.

There will be 1,500 new seats in District 13, including 600 at M.S. OneBrooklyn. The total number of seats in the district is now 2,600. District 13 includes Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Downtown, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

M.S. OneBrooklyn is an initiative by Brooklyn Community Board 8, Community Education Council 13, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, and the P.S. 9 PTO (Parent Teachers Organization).

The school will embrace the district’s diversity and offer a curriculum emphasizing arts, STEM and dual language studies. The community vision has been endorsed by a variety of art, science and cultural institutions, including BRIC, 651 ARTS, Roulette, Theater for a New Audience, New York Writers Coalition, The New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education and the French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation.

More information is available at www.msonebrooklyn.com.

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Updated at 4:30 p.m. Thursday with a quote from DOE spokesperson Toya Holness.