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Image courtesy of the Department of Education
Image courtesy of the Department of Education

At its last meeting of the year, Community Education Council District 20 (CEC 20) held a public hearing on the proposed 2015-2019 Capital Plan Amendment by the School Construction Authority – which means thousands of additional seats for the space-strapped district, one of the most over-utilized in the city.

“This is the first time in years that we didn’t rezone,” said CEC 20 President Laurie Windsor, noting that although this is good for both schools and students, there is still significant overcrowding. “We need more seats.”

The plan was presented at CEC 20’s December meeting on Wednesday, December 11 at P.S. 176.

The latest Capital Plan includes 4,045 funded seats at seven proposed project sites in Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Kensington and Bensonhurst. These project sites could include add-ons and additions. The plan also includes over 3,000 still-unfunded seats in District 20, bringing the total – should all the money be found — to 7,374 seats.

Those seats will come on top of some 5,100 added during the  2005-2009 capital plan. That plan had proposed a total of eight new elementary and intermediate schools, at a cost of $360 million, giving the district the biggest allocation of new seats of any district in the city to accommodate the population explosion in southwest Brooklyn.

Despite the current plan’s promise to alleviate overcrowding, these seats are still unaccounted for.

“It’s always been a struggle trying to find real estate in District 20,” said Steve Gonzalez of the SCA. “We’re still looking for locations for these seats.”

Right now, CEC 20 and SCA are searching anywhere and everywhere.

“It’s like playing checker; there’s no relief,” said Windsor. “Overcrowding is not going away.”

Despite large projects like P.S. 170’s addition, set to open in time for the 2015 school year, the CEC calls these seats a necessity. Windsor stressed that many immigrant families aren’t accounted for in the yearly Census, causing invalid projections of incoming students.

“The numbers could be triple that [of the Census],” she said.

While many parents sat back and stayed quiet, one spoke up about pre-existing schools in the area.

“I’m all for new seats and new schools,” she said, “but shouldn’t we also be paying attention to the schools we have now?”

Raising concerns about poor bathroom conditions, she urged CEC 20 to think hard about where their funding should go. Still, the CEC hopes to allocate these 7,374 seats.

“We’re always looking,” said Windsor.

CEC 20 urges anyone with site ideas to e-mail sites@NYCSCA.org.

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