Fariña coming to District 20 for education town hall

School finances to be among topics of discussion

October 17, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is welcomed by cheerleaders as she arrives for a town hall at McKinley Intermediate School in Bay Ridge in 2014. She is holding another town hall in District 20 on Oct. 25.  Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who held a memorable town hall in District 20 two years ago, is paying a return visit to Southwest Brooklyn next week to meet with parents to discuss such issues as student achievement, school finances and the de Blasio administration’s educational goals.

The Community Education Council (CEC) of District 20 is hosting a town hall with Fariña to take place on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at P.S. 204, 8101 15th Ave. in Bensonhurst, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

District 20 includes elementary and intermediate schools in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Sunset Park.

“There will be an opportunity for questions from the public,” the announcement from CEC 20 reads.

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The town hall will mark the second time in recent weeks that Fariña has come to Southwest Brooklyn. She came to Fort Hamilton High School at 8301 Shore Road in Bay Ridge on Sept. 28 with Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to help the de Blasio administration push a new initiative to encourage the city’s students to obtain IDNYC cards.

The city opened up several pop-up centers in schools as part of a “week of action” program to make it easier for students to apply for the ID cards.

During her visit, Fariña applied for her own IDNYC card.

While Fariña is expected to discuss the announced subjects at the Oct. 25 town hall, questions from parents are likely to veer off-topic to include issues like school overcrowding.

District 20 is among the most overcrowded school districts in the city, according to local educators and parents.

When Fariña held a town hall at McKinley Intermediate School in Bay Ridge in December of 2014, she faced numerous questions from parents about a housing controversy and its impact on school overcrowding.

The chancellor was peppered with questions about illegal home conversions — where developers subdivide one- and two-family homes into multiple units and create apartment buildings.

Parents in the audience that night told Fariña that they believed illegal home conversions bring large numbers of new residents into the area and add to the escalating problem of school overcrowding.

One parent suggested that the New York City Department of Education (DOE) send students home with letters for parents warning about the dangers of living in illegally subdivided housing.

But Fariña insisted that it was important to proceed with caution when it comes to the issue of illegal home conversions.

“This does not have an easy answer,” Fariña said. She said she feared that sending letters home would unfairly stigmatize students who live in illegal housing. “I don’t want kids to feel unwelcome in our schools,” she told parents.

The chancellor admitted, however, that District 20 does have a problem with overcrowding.

“I know you’re overcrowded,” she said, adding that whenever she comes to the district, she looks for “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs on buildings as possible sites for schools.

For more information on the upcoming town hall, call CEC 20 at 718-759-3921.

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