DOE gets go-ahead for latest rezoning efforts against school overcrowding

School overcrowding might not be as bad for the 2012-2013 schoolyear at several District 20 schools that serve students in SunsetPark, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Boro Park and Bensonhurst if theDepartment of Education’s (DOE) school district rezoning goesaccording to plan.

At their December meeting, members of District 20’s CommunityEducation Council (CEC) unanimously approved the DOE’s plan toreduce the number of residential blocks in each of the zones forP.S. 69 at 6302 Ninth Avenue, P.S. 105 at 1031 59th Street, andP.S. 160 at 5105 Fort Hamilton Parkway in an effort to beginlowering the 141 percent, 157 percent and 147 percent capacity,respectively, at the schools..

What zoning is attempting to do is to get the utilization ofthe three schools down to 130 percent capacity [each], explainedCEC20 President Laurie Windsor. We want to distribute studentsamongst [the three] while also sending some to P.S. 180 and P.S.164. It’s still not the end, but it’s something.

Newly opened P.S. 971 and P.S. 310, both at 6214 Fourth Avenueuntil P.S. 971’s building is completed, have already taken on someof P.S. 69’s zoned space, but it’s not enough, explainedWindsor.

That is why the zones of nearby P.S. 164 at 4211 14th Avenue andP.S. 180 SEALL Academy at 5601 16th Avenue will be extended toaccommodate students formerly zoned for P.S. 105 and P.S. 160,while a new annex for P.S. 160 will take on some students from P.S.105’s current zone.

The new zone for P.S. 105 will extend west of Eighth Avenuebetween 55th Street and 57th Street, plus one block between Seventhand Eighth Avenues and 57th and 58th Streets.

Meanwhile, people living in the area between 51st Street down toBay Ridge Avenue and from 11th Avenue over to 13th Avenue will nowbe zoned for P.S. 180. Those living in the area between 47th Streetand 51st Street and 11th and 12th Avenues will be zoned for P.S.164, as will those between 49th and 51st Streets and 12th and 13thAvenues.

Most of the families in the area just want to go to the closestpublic school within walking distance, said Windsor. And thosethree principals are very good at communicating with familieswhat’s going on.

Education officials and families hope that the measures willwork, but there’s no guarantee.

PS 105 is such an excellent school that every kid wants to getin, said Zi Yi Pan, a CEC board member who has one child in P.S.105 and another who just graduated. I believe that the rezoningwill help a little bit, but won’t do a great deal on overcrowding.The DOE should have a long-term development plan to cope with thefast growing population in the community.

Directing students living in Sunset Park and Dyker Heights -where kindergarten enrollment continues to increase year after year- to schools in Boro Park is made possible by the fact that,historically, Boro Park schools are underutilized because thepredominantly Orthodox Jewish students living there tend to go toyeshivas.

CEC20 also unanimously approved the creation of a zone forcurrently non-zoned P.S. 748 in order to relieve existing andanticipated overcrowding at nearby P.S. 200 and P.S. 163.

This change worried some parents at P.S. 748 who expressedconcern that becoming a zoned school would bring reduced parentinvolvement and lower educational standards as a result ofrequiring attendance from local residents as opposed to allowingonly those who sought out the school to attend.

P.S. 748’s new zone boundaries are split below and above 86thStreet, stretching from Cropsey Avenue up to 83rd Street. Below86th Street, it would encompass the area between Bay 17th Streetand 19th Avenue. Above 86th Street, it would include the blockbetween 19th and 20th Avenues.

According to Carrie Marlin of the DOE’s Office of PortfolioPlanning, the proposed zone change/creation is intended to relieveovercrowding at P.S. 200, which is at 126 percent capacity, toallow P.S. 163 to expand on schedule, and to create steady,predictable enrollment patterns for P.S. 748.

The new zones will go into effect in time for the kindergartenenrollment process in January 2012.

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