Lack of school sites frustrates Sunset parents

Is Sunset Park being overlooked?

Parents and Sunset Park residents expressed dissatisfaction at the continued lack of new school sites for the overcrowded Sunset Park portion of Community Education Council District 15 despite having funded seats, as the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) presented the revision to its five-year capital plan in a meeting on Thursday, February 26 at P.S. 172 – the Beacon School of Excellence.

Included in the November 2014 Amendment Capacity Program for the $13.5 billion capital plan for fiscal years 2015-2019 were 2,192 funded District 15 seats, with an additional 2,154 additional unfunded seats – 1,514 of them in Sunset Park.

According to the SCA, the problem is a paucity of sites where new schools can be constructed, with SCA representatives repeatedly mentioning that they had people scouting the area for possible sites, but had strict safety and environmental rules to adhere to.

Nonetheless, parents voiced concerns about overcrowding and cited a “lack of action” on the SCA’s part.

“The fact that these things can be done and have been done for the right constituencies, I’m really tired of hearing that it can’t be done. It can – and if this community was taken as seriously as Park Slope and some of the other communities in our district, it would be done,” said Jim Devor, former CEC 15 president, during the meeting, eliciting much applause.

“It’s the whole ‘We can’t do anything, it’s difficult,’” said parent Johanna Bjorken. “What’s going to happen? Is the sun going to come out and suddenly there’s going to be real estate in Brooklyn? I don’t understand why. It’s like they’re living under some rock. It’s very frustrating.”

One parent advocate urged activism with the goal of moving the process along.

“The seats that we have allocated haven’t been built and our community is growing and it doesn’t seem we have a real pathway to getting a school in Sunset,” said Naila Rosario, president of CEC 15. “So I’m really hoping that now with the support of the CEC to build a school on Third Avenue that we can find a site sooner rather than later.”

P.S. 172 is located at 825 Fourth Avenue, in Sunset Park.

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