In hopes to help ease overcrowding at P.S. 321 and P.S. 107, the District 15 Community Education Council voted to approve the rezoning map proposed by the Department of Education on Wed. night.
Although the outcome was a bit anticlimactic, the CEC’s approval put an end to the rezoning turf war between parents and the new school lines in Park Slope.
Jim Devor, the president of District 15’s CEC, called the approval after seven consecutive motions to say “yes” the new map. And just like that approximately 13 blocks from P.S. 321’s area now belongs to a new elementary school, set to open Sept. 2013, in the old St. Thomas Aquinas school building at 211 Eighth St. and Fourth Ave.
“This has been a difficult process for you and me...” President Devor said to the audience in M.S. 443, explaining that he believes the rezoning of P.S. 321’s area, which will cut kindergarten classes from 270 students to somewhere between 215 and 225, will help reduce overcrowding with the “least bad consequences for those left behind.”
During his explanation as to why he voted in favor of the DOB’s proposed map, in light of many parents who disagreed with the redrawn lines and even the process itself, Devor said one of the greatest tipping points was the potential of school capping.
“I don’t think parents want to suffer the consequences of capping,” he said. “It’s a really bad possibility.”
The new map for P.S. 321 will exclude the area between President and Fifth streets from Fourth and Fifth avenues, and Sixth through President streets between Third and Fourth avenues from its old territory.
Now P.S. 321’s area will only include the blocks inside Fifth Avenue through Prospect Park West and Fifth Street through Union Street. A sliver from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue between President and Union streets is outside of the zone.
Under the new zones, P.S. 10 will swallow a portion of P.S. 107 from 14th Street to 11th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, and from Eighth Avenue to Prospect Park West from Windsor Place to 15th Street.
Fortunately, P.S. 39 was not affected by the rezoning.
The decision by the CEC was not the most ideal, for some parents who believed their children would be going to P.S. 321 will find out that they will be going to the new school in the St. Thomas Aquinas school building.
Edward Rodriguez, a member of the CEC, also said that the decision was hard and that it was an “imperfect solution” and that some parents may feel “cheated.”
But, Mark Kolman, the vice president of the CEC, put it a little differently:
“We have very little choice in this matter if we want to see our schools succeed,” he said matter-of-fact.
After the explanations, the meeting was adjourned and the small group of parents got up and spoke with one another.
Parents believe that the rezoning will not only affect the students who are “cut out” of their desired schools. A group of three mothers whose children go to P.S. 10 and are on the PTA said that the rezoning will negatively affect their school by increasing class size by taking a few blocks of P.S. 107.
With the new zones, P.S. 10’s kindergarten classes will increase approximately from 104 students to 125 to 135 students.
“We are not particularly thrilled with the rezoning because we are already overcrowded,” said Stephanie Hochman, who has a child in third grade and will have another in kindergarten next year.
She explained that the data used by the DOB is a year old and that P.S. 10 experienced a big increase in enrollment this year.
Another mother, who has a son in the third grade and another in first grade, said that the DOB told them they would see a reduction next year.
“Our class sizes are bigger than the rezoning is intended to relieve,” said Cathy Campbell. “It’s true that 107 needs more relief than us, but we feel that we are suffering overcrowding and will hit the wall in two to three years.”
A father whose child will be in the first kindergarten class of the newly created school on Eighth Street come Sept. said that the entire process of rezoning was “undemocratic.”
“There was a lack of transparency and a lack of involvement with the parents impacted,” Matthew Didner said, who lives between Fourth and Fifth avenues and is part of a group called the Coalition of Residents for Fair Rezoning. “Now there is no one to hold accountable.”