Last night the Department of Education and the District 15 Community Education Council presented the proposed new school zoning to Park Slope parents. The colors in the map above (click to enlarge!) show the current school zoning, and the lines show the proposed zoning. The proposed zoning accounts for a new K-5 school at the Thomas Aquinas building on Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue and the currently under-construction P.S. 133, on 4th Avenue and Butler. About 10 blocks located in the southwest corner of the P.S. 321 zone will shift into the new school district. And some southern and western chunks of the P.S. 107 zone will shift over to P.S. 10. Carrie Marlin from the DOE told the crowd that the proposed changes are for the 2013-14 school year. The rezoning will significantly alleviate the overcrowding at each school; P.S. 321 is currently at 128 percent utilization and P.S. 107 is at 158 percent utilization. This is the first rezoning for District 15, so as CEC 15 President Jim Devor said, “We must confront many of our needs in one plan, since a rezoning doesn’t happen that often.”
Parents brought up a number of issues at the public hearing. Many parents were angry that children who are not living in the school zone are allowed to attend the school. (P.S. 321 Principal Liz Phillips told the crowd they do their best to enforce that, but a student is legally allowed to attend P.S. 321 if they start there as a kindergartner and then leave the zone.) A father, Philippe Verfaillie, said: “We played by the rules… We bought in the zone because we wanted to be in the zone.” Another woman pointed out that the Park Slope blocks rezoned out of P.S. 321 are the most racially diverse in the neighborhood. Other parents expressed aggravation at the process itself, saying there was not enough notice for the meeting and that 45 days is not enough for a public comment period. Public comments will be accepted on the matter until late November before the Community Education Council votes. It’s also worth noting that the CEC and DOE cannot reach an agreement about an affirmative action plan at new school PS 133, detailed this week in the NY Times. Devor said that the CEC is waiting for the DOE to guarantee a diversity policy for admissions at P.S. 133 before they vote to rezone. More specifics on P.S. 133 are coming soon. As Principal Phillips, who supports the rezoning, said of the whole proposal: “It’s not the ideal solution — there is no ideal solution. It’s the permanent solution.” Read more details from the hearing over at DNAinfo and The New York Times.
DOE Looks to Rezone Popular Park Slope Schools [Brownstoner]