Checking In With the Downtown Brooklyn School Initiative


Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions continues to push for more educational options in Downtown Brooklyn since the group started earlier this year. They’ve written an open letter to developers of sites in the neighborhood encouraging them to include a school as part of their future projects, and identified a few locations where developers could build a school in exchange for concessions from the city. They’ve also crunched some numbers to find that 2,651 new elementary school-aged children will be living in Downtown Brooklyn by 2018 but as of 2011, there were only 396 available seats in the existing schools that serve the neighborhood which spans Districts 13 and 15. An urban planner recently reported similar findings to Community Board Two. Since Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions started, a charter school announced that it was opening at 80 Willoughby Street and will accommodate as many as 300 students.

Families Push for Elementary School Downtown [Brownstoner]

Map of Downtown Brooklyn developments via DBSS

18 Comment

  • The DOE isn’t going to open more zoned elementary schools in downtown in the near future, nor should it. The current traditional public schools in the area – except for PS 8 – are all well below capacity. In fact, this year all 3 of the public schools near downtown were unable to fill their pre-k classes, which, in most zoned schools are filled to capacity with zoned children, and a long waiting list after that. http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/CF382299-58D1-44EC-A418-3E8539360FB8/0/2013PKProgramSeatAvailability632013.pdf

    Which is to say, the risk of a “serious overcrowding problem” is very remote in anything like the near future. Of course that doesn’t mean that the DOE won’t make a new school, but it’s not going to be a zoned school, and the DoBros won’t have priority to attend it.

    Either way, I’m sure the DoBros’s message is being heard by even more charter schools that are eager to scoop up the kids whose poor little rich parents are too good for the existing schools, just like Brooklyn Prospect did. Then that fixes everything, right?

    • I wish there was a real advocacy group working with reality, and worrying about the shortage of placements for middle school in downtown Brooklyn. That would be a lot more productive for all residents.

      So who is running “Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions?”

  • Attn white families of Downtown Brooklyn: there are no shortcuts. PS 287–the main zoned schools in dobro–has hundreds upon hundreds of vacant seats. Too many poor black kids for you? Go join the PTA, raise money, and fill it with your Mini Boden-clad tots, which is what happened with all the “desirable” schools around brownstone Brooklyn, some of which, unfortunately, now resemble Darien Connecticut.

  • anonlurker

    i don’t have kids and could care less but what’s wrong with anticipating the shortage in the next 5 years? surely starting 5 years in advance isn’t jumping the gun when it comes to all the shit one would need to do to get more schools opened. and for the record i agree with the above two comments but i don’t think they’re relevant if these folks are trying to tackle an overpop problem in five years.

    • There is no over-population problem in the making. Many of the surrounding schools are under-enrolled, including 287 and 38. Incoming white dbbro families just don’t like the schools they’re zoned for. If downtown brooklyn was zoned for PS 29, you wouldn’t be hearing a word about “over-population.”

    • the “anticipated shortage” is based on a lot of assumptions and misinformation. they only looked at a small portion of the two relevant districts and are ignoring the increasing availability of seats in nonzoned public schools in both districts, including unzoned schools, charters, g&t, and dual language. population is falling elsewhere in the district as upper income families move in and have fewer kids. and the DOE will remove pre-k seats if necessary.

      if there’s a misalignment of the population and the current zones, the DOE will propose a rezone. that’s what they did in park slope – 282 and 133 zones were combined, and the new 133 building was made a “choice” school. and the only reason that school got built was because district 15 – which had actual overcrowding – paid for it.

      hey, i don’t mind if they convince someone to put up a nice building for a school, but i do have issues with the diversion of community resources (including giving tax exemptions!!) for a problem that doesn’t exist, when there are a whole lot of real problems that do exist.

  • There is a good reason PS 38 is underpopulated. The administration is not good, to put it mildly. My former roommate taught there for a few years and had so many issues with the principal/administration (including refusals to get students spec. ed evaluations who needed them and falsified memos to try to make it look like my friend, who got in an hour early every day and stayed at least an hour or 2 every night plus the work she did at home, was not fulfilling her responsibilities) who eventually got put on administrative leave after a recording of her threatening the teachers “not to air their dirty laundry” on the end of year principal survey was released and one of her cronies took over. From my understanding, not much has changed since then. As someone who works in education, I am all for sending (my yet to born) children to schools that have the potential for improvement and getting involved to make that happen, but not with that type of “leadership.” http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/brooklyn-principal-yolanda-ramirez-investigation-intimidating-teachers-school-surveys-article-1.166915

    • morralkan

      Sadly, you’re probably right about PS 38. Perhaps when we have a new mayor, someone who actually knows something and cares about education, who hires a chancellor who is an educator and not a political hack or close friend, some of these horrible, POS principals will be fired and there will be real investment in zoned schools. Then, it will be possible for parents and teachers to have a positive impact on education in these buildings.
      No school system will ever be perfect, but NYC schools can be much better than they are now. This mayor has decided that teachers, particularly the older ones, with tenure, whose salaries are a lot higher than those of the newly-hired, are all horrible and unable to educate children. Neither Emperor Bloomberg, nor Klein, nor Walcott (and certainly not Cathy Black) would recognize good teaching if they were shoved head-first into it. They only know that their carefully brainwashed, er … trained, supervisors are blameless of any and all problems. That plus their youthful, ignorant “experts” at Tweed and the constant restructuring of the DOE (6 or 7 times since I retired) add up to a dysfunctional system.
      Thanks, Education Mayor!

      • Well said. Pray De Blasio wins!

        • morralkan

          Thanks, but I’m not a huge DeBlasio fan. I’d much prefer either Thompson or Liu, both of whom have excellent positions on elevating the NYC public schools. For sure not Quinn, though, who ran the rah-rah chorus for Bloomberg’s initiatives all these years. (I’m not sure that she does not have Bloomie’s tacit support for the minor differences of opinion with him that she has expressed these past few months.) Unfortunately, my preference, Liu, doesn’t seem to have much traction in this election.

  • Agree totally with LWSabre98. Plenty of parents white, black, brown or other have tried to make 38 a good school, but the principal has thwarted all their efforts. For many It’s in for pre-k and then out to the other District 15 choices. After 7 years of public school, the parents can only do so much if the principal won’t budge. Ramirez can get an A from the corporate testing conglomerate (she was a Joel Klein acolyte) but the opinions of parents and teachers are another thing. When our child was there, many teachers told us to look for another school as soon as we could. We did and got into a choice school, but just because we knew how to navigate the system. Not many parents have the time, energy or knowledge how to get their kid into a good public school.

    That said, I can see the shortage being a real problem for District 13 and 15. Kindergarten entry has been tough for many people.

  • There are so many kids living in studio and one bedroom apartments in the neighborhood I have to believe a lot will finally move (tho the desire to live in a cool neighborhood or make $500K when they sell have kept them living like that). And yes — they all expect their kids to go to a wonderful school for free and do nothing to improve it.

  • I’m befuddled about why some of the commenters seem to think that it is the job of the parents of the advantaged children to ‘fix’ the problem schools like 38 or 287. The leadership at those schools are responsible for making sure that all children of all races and backgrounds are getting a good education. And if they are failing their students then they should be held accountable or the DOE should be stepping in to offer more assistance. A strong PTA is only as strong as the principal at the school – lead first and parents will follow from all over the district. 307 is doing a good job of that.

    The shame is that under the current system, the families who have the most to invest in their children’s school have the most choice and they vote with their feet. The children who need the advantage that a good education provides end up in the struggling schools.

    • morralkan

      It’s not so much that parents should fix the schools, but there have to be REAL avenues for the parents to be involved in the schools, not to simply be rubber stamps for the DOE and Bloomberg. If need be, the parents have to be able to oust an inept or incompetent or crazy principal. Under Bloomberg’s DOE, the only significant role parents can have is to raise money for their school. Unfortunately, in poorer neighborhoods, parents don’t have the deep pockets that one sees in Park Slope, Greenwich Village, etc. so their schools often suffer.