A community meeting about the overcrowding at PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights took place on 5/13 at PS 287 with parents, members of the PTA, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Council member Stephen Levin, Assembly member Jo Ann Simon, Comptroller Scott Stringer, DOE Chief Executive of Space Management Thomas Taratko, Superintendent Barbara Freeman and District 13 CEC President David Goldsmith.
Thomas Taratko from the DOE clarified that PS 8 never had the planning capacity for a 6th Kindergarten class and while the principal of the school had accommodated a 6th section during the last two years to allow all in-zone children to attend PS 8 the school has no capacity to continue to do so. “I do not believe that there will be a 6th class, but it is ultimately up to the Chancellor Carmen Farina.” The main arguments of parents to run 6 Kindergarten classes were that they did not want to see a community ripped apart and would have needed more notice for such a decision. An unconfirmed source indicated 127 children out of the 150 who got a spot were pre-registered for the 125 Kindergarten seats for fall. No child on the current wait list of approx. 50 kids has been offered a spot at PS 8 so far.
Thomas Taratko insisted that the zone of PS 8 is too large and rezoning should have happened two years ago. “Rezoning is on the table and we are working on a rezoning proposal for the school year 2016/2017. We have a couple hundred available seats at PS 307 and PS 287.” A task force of parents, PTA members, school officials, elect officials, the DOE and the CEC will work on a rezoning proposal and solutions beyond the immediate rezoning. By November the rezoning committee of the CEC 13 could make their decision for next school year leaving more time for parents to plan accordingly.
With over 1,800 new residential units coming to the PS 8 school zone between 2015 and 2019, the community needs to expect over 500 additional elementary-school-aged children. After a rezoning, the approximately 290 available seats at PS 307 and PS 287 would be filled very quickly. And this does not even take into account the building boom in Downtown Brooklyn for PS 287. A bigger solution for our rapidly growing neighborhood needs to be found ASAP!