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Rezoning may ease overcrowding, lengthen commutes for kids

The issue of how to deal with school overcrowding in southwestBrooklyn is taking center stage again as the Department ofEducation’s (DOE) proposal to rezone a portion of School District21 is coming up for a vote by the local parent advisory group,Community Education Council 21, this Wednesday, December 14.

The proposal would rezone a portion of P.S. 101’s area forP.S.212. The area in question is a five-block long by two-blockwide area stretching from 86th Street down to Shore Parkway and Bay40th Street to 26th Avenue, plus a two-block by one-block areabordered by Bath Avenue, Bay 43rd Street, Cropsey Avenue and 26thAvenue.

All incoming kindergarteners living in the rezoned area would berequired to go to P.S. 212 unless they have a sibling alreadyenrolled in first through fifth grade at P.S. 101.

P.S. 101 is currently at 142 percent capacity and last yearthey were at 135 percent, noted Yoketing Eng, CEC 21’s president.Before this, the principal had asked to be rezoned due to[concerns about] teaching some students in hallways and inconverted huge closets. So the principal, in conjunction with thesuperintendent, came up with this… It won’t reduce the size to100 percent, but… this will sort of balance it out.

With the rezoning, the DOE estimates that P.S. 101 would have anestimated 108 percent utilization by the 2017-2018 school year.P.S. 212 is currently at 72 percent capacity and would go up to anestimated 98 percent capacity in six years. That’s why mom KeanaWilliams said she thinks the proposal is a good thing for herchild’s school.

It’s unfair for kids in P.S. 101 through [overcrowding] there,said Williams, president of P.S. 212’s PTA. There would be moreparents, so maybe we can do more, too.

P.S. 101 dad Frank Nesni agreed, noting that although the changewouldn’t affect his daughter, who is currently in second grade anddoes not live in the contested zone, he thinks it would be goodbecause it’s always good to have it less crowded. There are about30 kids in her class, he said.

For other parents, though, the rezoning would not be soeasy.

Some people are crying because P.S. 212 is too far, said Mrs.Chin, a mom of three current P.S. 101 students. A lot of people[are worried that] P.S. 212 is not as safe, with the train[overpass] right there. It wouldn’t affect me, but a lot of peopleare upset.

A longer commute – an increase of between five and 13 more cityblocks – to an unfamiliar neighborhood has some parents concernedfor their children’s safety and also wondering how they would getthem there without public transportation.

The downfall is that some parents love P.S. 101 and don’t wantto leave, don’t want to walk that far, said Eng, the CEC 21president. Plus, the B64 line has been cancelled. [AssemblymemberWilliam] Colton is trying to get it reinstated.

Clearly this bus reduction has had a devastating impact on thecommunity, said Colton. Children would have to walk 10 to 12blocks or their grandparents would have to take them. The B64 usedto stop directly in front of P.S. 212. That would have been anideal alternative, especially when the weather was bad or it wastoo cold to walk. There might not have been the opposition there isnow.

The B64 bus route was shortened in June 2010 and currently endsat 25th Avenue and Harway Avenue instead of its original StillwellAvenue destination. However, it still drives by P.S. 212, empty,between runs.

If the rezoning is approved by CEC 21, the changes would go intoeffect for September 2012. The issue will be discussed and voted onat the CEC 21 meeting on Wednesday, December 14, at P.S. 215, at415 Avenue S.

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