The explosion of new family-size development in Park Slope, coupled with a rule that says that children may stay at the school they enrolled in, even if they move to a different neighborhood, may be the reason for P.S. 321’s overcrowding – and why no one wants to leave, according to the New York Times.
The city’s Education Department is proposing to redraw several zones in the area and add a new school in an effort to cut back on school overcrowding. If the rezoning is approved, P.S. 321’s zone will shrink by about 10 blocks, while the zone for P.S. 107, another well-regarded school, will decrease by about five blocks.
Though school officials point to new construction as the reason for the crowded schools, the Times says that parents who live in their schools zone are blaming those who move out for taking up classroom seats at the popular schools.
When it was time for his daughter to start school, Stefan Fredrick moved his family into a less-than-ideal rental in the zone for P.S. 321, so that she may enroll there, but after a year, found their dream home in Gowanus, a few blocks outside of the zone.
“It was not our intention to zip in and zip out,” Frederick told the Times. “We would have stayed if we could have.”
Another example that the paper points out is Francesca Pope, who could not afford to continue living in their home, zoned for P.S. 321, with four children. So, they moved to Flatbush.
Elizabeth Phillips, the principal of P.S. 321, told the crowd at a community board meeting this month that while the majority of students who live outside of the zone had indeed lived there at some point, there were still some parents who fudged their address upon enrollment.
“Are there people who lie about their address? Of course,” she said, according to the paper. “We check as much as we can. We do home visits. But there is a limit.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the District 15 Community Education Committee is set to vote on the rezoing proposal on Nov. 28, and if approved, it goes to the DOE's Panel for Education Policy for a January vote.