Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Get up and dance! P.S. 9 receives fitness grant

Earlier this month, the city’s Move-to-Improve program awarded P.S. 9 a grant to support fitness breaks in classrooms. The grant will provide up to $2500 for classroom teachers to train in the program, and also will supply classroom exercise equipment, music CDs, activity cards and other teaching aids.

The Move-to-Improve curriculum aims to increase physical activity among elementary students. It offers a series of 10-minute lessons that combine movement with academic learning. Click here to see the 32 different activities and learn more.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hispanic Heritage Day - updated schedule

P.S. 9's administration has updated the schedule for this Friday's exciting Hispanic Heritage celebration. This event is a longstanding October tradition at P.S. 9, and features spirited performances by Pre-K through 2nd grade classes. Below, please see the schedule and more details about the planned display in the gymnasium that day.

12:30 perform in auditorium. At 12:40, move to gym for party and museum.

12 noon in gym for party and museum
12:45 performances in auditorium

1st and 2nd grade
12:50 party in the gym
1:20-2:15 performances

Grades 3,4 and 5
1:25-2:00 party in the gym.
(These classes will not perform.)

The administration will also create, in the gym, a "Spanish Museum of Culture." Any parents who would like to contribute authentic Hispanic items for the display, please click to send a message to PTO Secretary Christine Scanlon, or call her at 917-406-4405.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Parents clean 1st grade wing

Parent volunteers this week spent two mornings this week organizing closets for first grade teachers Ms. McNeil and Ms. Marshall, while other volunteers helped Ms. St. Onge in the classroom. The parents also tackled the common closet in the first grade wing. The parents were too sweaty to consent to a group photo, but these pictures show the dauntingly disordered closet, before and after:

September PTO Meeting: Playground & silent auction

Tuesday night saw this year's opening meeting for P.S. 9’s PTO, held in the auditorium. Approximately 70 people attended. At the meeting, Ms. D’Avilar announced that the first phase of the playground construction will be done in three weeks, around October 14. The noisy drilling for constructing play equipment, she said, will be completed by Thursday this week, according to the contractor.

The PTO officers encouraged parents and family members to buy discounted tickets in advance for the Oct. 22 Silent Auction, which is traditionally the school’s biggest fundraiser and supports the arts programs. To learn more about tickets, please see the forms sent home with students, or visit the auction website. The officers also announced their main goals for the year. You can read the goals here.

Please click here to read a fuller summary of the meeting, including news about the afterschool program, announcements of upcoming fundraisers and school events, and more of what Principal D’Avilar said.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Calling all parents: first meeting of the year!

Please join the PTO Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in the P.S. 9 teachers' lounge, which you reach by turning left at the main office and walking to the last room on the right. The officers encourage all P.S. 9 parents to attend. Please note that CHILD CARE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE GYM.

At the meeting, PTO officers will describe their vision and goals for the year, committees will describe what they hope to achieve, and the principal and parent coordinator will address parents.

Come mark the start of the year by bringing your enthusiasm and ideas!

See you tomorrow! (Don't worry if you can't make it, the blog will post a summary later this week.)

(For older posts about previous meetings, click here.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Current parent volunteer opportunities

Below is a list of some immediate ways for parents to help the school and the PTO. The blog will provide regular updates of this list.

1. Ask your child's classroom teacher if s/he needs help setting up the classroom or with other tasks.

2. Picture Day: Be a part of putting together the classic images that we love of our children with freshly combed hair and awkward smiles.

3. The Candy (and other stuff) Sale: The PTO needs help setting up and managing this fundraising sale.

4. The PTO afterschool program needs extra adults to help during the hour between 5-6 p.m.

5. The PTO Lunchroom Committee needs a kindergarten parent to help coordinate volunteers during first lunch period, when lower grades eat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What you can do to improve morning dropoff in the cafeteria

The administrators are working to smooth out morning dropoff in the cafeteria for Grades 1 and 2 — and request your help. In the morning, please seat your children at their lunch tables (marked by yellow signs). Students will wait there until their teacher signals them to leave.

Parents who are waiting with their first and second graders, please stay out of the main walkways so that groups can pass through easily.

For the rest of this week, parents of first-graders may accompany their children to classrooms. Next Monday, please allow all students to proceed to class independently with their teacher.

Sign up for a committee!

P.S. 9's PTO committees are organizing. Which way can you contribute? Please select one (or more) and try it out. Clipboards with sign-up sheets will be on a table in the lobby this week. You may also email your name, phone number and email address to ptops9@gmail.com. Committees organized so far:
Hospitality & Events
Lunchtime Volunteers
Parent Advocacy

Monday, September 12, 2011

Afterschool program: download registration forms

The fun begins! PTO's afterschool programs are under way today. Please pre-register each child. Families may use the program for 5,4,3,2, or 1 day a week. You may also use the programs on an emergency basis as long as you pre-register your child.

To pre-register:
Click here to download a program description, fee listing, and registration forms.
You must also submit this 2-page enrollment agreement with the registration form.

You may contact the PTO Afterschool program at:
(718) 809-6005
Thanks to all for their extensive preparation for this year's program. If you would like to help run the program or to lead activity and enrichment sessions for a half-hour or hour each week, please contact us. Your help is welcome!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First-day info session for parents

Welcome to the new year at P.S. 9! After you drop off your child tomorrow morning at 8:20 a.m. and meet your child's teacher, please stop by the PTO table in the lobby. We will have available information about the after-school programs and PTO volunteer opportunities. Please consider joining a PTO committee. Signup sheets will be available.

Also, please enjoy the bagels, coffee and juice in the auditorium.

From 9:30 - 10 a.m., the principal and administrative team will hold an orientation in the auditorium, where they will answer questions. The PTO will introduce officers and provide descriptions of committees.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Looking forward to September!

Hope all PS 9 families and prospective families are having a great summer and staying cool. The new PTO is working hard on the after-school enrichment (ASE) program and some welcome-back social events.

  • On Saturday, August 27, we'll be welcoming incoming Pre-K and K families with a 9 a.m. get-together at Underhill Playground.
  • On the first day of school (September 8!), we will have a table set up with general information, as well as specifics on ASE.
  • We're looking forward to seeing everyone at the first PTO meeting, Tuesday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m., childcare provided.
  • And we're really excited about our second annual carousel party in Prospect Park, Saturday evening, October 1!

You can contact the PTO at


Tell Chancellor Walcott how you feel

This doesn't raise all the issues I want to sound off about, but it's a good start, and the more PS 9 parents who weigh in, the more likely they may be to listen to us.
Unfortunately, the deadline is today, but the survey is short. Get started here:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Community open house on Friday

Please tell friends and neighbors that Ms. D'Avilar will be discussing the school's curriculum, instruction and enrichment activities tomorrow.

When: 9:15 a.m. - 11:15
Where: The Auditorium

Monday, May 9, 2011

Please Attend P.S. 9 Co-location Hearing this Friday, May 13

The Dept. of Education, the
Panel on Educational Policy (PEP) and SUNY Charter Schools Institute are seeking public comments on the DOE's proposed co-location of Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School in the building where P.S. 9 resides.

We strongly encourage P.S. 9 families and community members to speak at the public hearing, and to send written and oral comments to the DOE and PEP

Please Attend: DOE Public Hearing, this Friday, May 13, 6:00 pm (sign up to speak at 5:30 pm) in the P.S. 9 Auditorium at 80 Underhill Avenue (between St. Marks and Bergen).

Email comments to: D13Proposals@schools.nyc.gov, panel@schools.nyc.gov (sample letter below)

Submit oral comments at: 212-374-0208 (sample script below)

Attend the PEP hearing & vote at 6:00 pm on Wed, May 18 at Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens, NY, 11106. Sign-up to speak at 5:30 pm. UFT will provide buses from P.S. 9 to the hearing - to reserve a place on the bus, contact Laura Jaffe at lljaffe@hotmail.com or 917/673-2157.

- Sign the online petition to support P.S. 9’s grade expansion

Thank you!

The P.S. 9 Parent Advisory Council


Email To: D13Proposals@schools.nyc.gov, panel@schools.nyc.gov

Subject: P.S. 9 comments re: proposed Brooklyn East Collegiate co-location

Dear Mr. Taylor and the PEP:

I am writing to express my opposition to the co-location of Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter school in building K009, where P.S. 9 Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School currently resides.

Despite the New York State Education Commissioner’s March 31 annulment of the PEP vote on this co-location, the DOE has submitted amended documents to proceed with the co-location. As with the original documents deemed illegal by the Commissioner, the DOE’s amended documents were prepared without consultation with P.S. 9 and still contain critical inaccuracies and errors. If approved again, the co-location would severely harm the learning environment of elementary school students at P.S. 9 and would stunt the progress of a thriving community school.

In addition, P.S. 9 has submitted an application to the DOE to expand to a pre-K through Grade 8 school, which is currently under review by the DOE.

As an inclusive elementary school and an anchor of the vibrant, diverse community of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and surrounding neighborhoods, P.S. 9 has the vision and capability to grow into a successful middle school that would give P.S. 9 graduates a strong neighborhood middle school option while serving the needs of the District 13 community.

I support P.S. 9’s efforts to expand into a Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 school, and I oppose the co-location of Brooklyn East Collegiate in building K009.

I urge the DOE and the PEP to halt the co-location process, and let P.S. 9 grow!


[your name here]

***SAMPLE PHONE SCRIPT*** Submit your oral comments to: 212-374-0208

Hello, I’m calling to express my opposition to the co-location of Brooklyn East Collegiate in building K009, where the P.S. 9 elementary school resides. If approved, the co-location would severely harm the learning environment of elementary school students at P.S. 9 and would stunt the progress of a thriving community school. In addition, P.S. 9 has submitted an application to the DOE to expand to a pre-K through Grade 8 school, which is currently under review by the DOE. I support P.S. 9’s efforts to expand into a Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 school, and I urge the DOE and the PEP to halt the co-location process, and let P.S. 9 grow! Thank you.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday's Town Hall discussion

Prospect Heights Patch published a report on the District 13 Community Education Council Town Hall Meeting at M.S. 113 on April 12. At least a dozen P.S. 9 parents attended and asked questions of Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg.

Colin Weathersby wrote the story, which noted that Mr. Sternberg didn't directly answer many questions. Mr. Weathersby also took the photo at left showing (from left) parents Christina LaBrie, Faye Rimalovski, Catherine Jhung , Ivana Espinet, Maria McGrath, Maggie Adonis and Penelope Mahot. One standout comment included in the Patch story:
Several parent speakers noted that the Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School does not currently provide full services for special needs students. Deputy Chancellor Sternberg quickly responded that charter schools are mandated to provide equivalent resources under state law, citing that anything less “is a serious violation and needs to be brought to the attention of the DOE.”
We'll include other accounts of the evening as we get them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April P.T.O. meeting roundup, part 2

From yesterday morning's P.T.O. meeting:

Nominations and elections: The P.T.O. is planning for next year. The executive board encourages you to help find new officers and volunteers who can contribute their skills, vision and energy to the organization as it tries to increase its fundraising and support the school more fully. The Nominating Committee will send out flyers describing positions for the P.T.O. Executive Board, the P.T.O. Board of Directors, the School Leadership Team (SLT) and the Title 1 committee. The flyer will include a nomination form, which parents can drop off at the school. Elections are scheduled for Wednesday, June 1st at 6 p.m., the same night as the Parent Recognition event.

•The next PTO movie night will be April 29, 6 p.m. The P.T.O. will sell refreshments. Showing: the reverse superhero tale Megamind. For a description on the Kids-in-Mind review site, click here. RottenTomatoes (a site rounding up movie critics' observations) praises its "top-shelf voice cast and strong visuals" which "help make Megamind a pleasant, if unspectacular, diversion."
-Kirby Pulver

Summary of April P.T.O. meeting, part 1

At the P.T.O.'s monthly meeting yesterday morning, attendees heard this news about P.S. 9:

1. School surveys are due this Friday, 4/15 at midnight. Completion of them represents 20% of the A-F grade that the school receives in DOE's school progress report. Please take 5 minutes to fill out one on paper or online. Laptops are set up in the school lobby for you to fill out a survey. If you lost your form and don't know your access code you can call 1-800-690-8603.

2. Playground update: the project is now projected to be finished in November. The delay is due to the necessary construction that needs to occur underneath the school to prevent future flooding. The Department of Education says that work will start immediately. Once finished, completing the playground will take 6 to 8 weeks, according to what Out2Play has said in the past.

3. Summer school update: DOE has told P.S. 9 administration that the school cannot hold summer school, including any camps, in the building due to construction and light fixture replacement. P.S. 9 normally hosts around 10 programs in the summer. Ms. D'Avilar and the administration are investigating alternative locations and will give more details soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Media Roundup: P.S. 9 Co-location Fight Grabs Headlines

Since P.S. 9 parent advocates won their petition against the DOE last week, P.S. 9's co-location fight has been in the news. Here are links to most of the stories:

Inside Schools: DOE re-doing “co-location” proposals after Steiner’s ruling (4/12)

New York Times: A City School’s Uphill Fight Over Sharing Space With a Charter (4/11)

Brooklyn Paper: City moves ahead with co-location in P.S. 9 — despite state order (4/11)

Brooklyn Paper: State ed boss overrules city on MS 571 closure (4/4)

NYC School Help (blog): P.S. 9 fights city hall and wins (4/4)

Prospect Heights Patch: Parents Win Appeal to Halt Plans for Charter School at P.S. 9 (4/1)

NY1: http://www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/education/ (4/1)

WNYC: State Blocks Charter School From Moving Into PS 9 in Brooklyn (4/1)

Gotham Schools: At Brooklyn’s PS 9, state overturns a space-sharing plan, again (4/1)

New York Daily News: New York State overturns deal for charter school to get rooms at Brooklyn's PS 9 (4/1)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: State Halts Plans To Co-Locate Charter School (4/1)

The Local (NYTimes blog): Victory for P.S. 9’s Parents, Meeting for P369K’s (4/1)

Council Member Letitia James' press release: ATTENTION: No Co-Location BK East Collegiate Charter School In PH Building (4/1)

Support PreK-8 grade expansion: sample letters and update

P.S. 9 Principal D'Avilar, in conjunction with the School Leadership Team (SLT), is filing a two-page Letter of Intent to expand P.S. 9 to a pre-K to Grade 8 school, following the Department of Education’s Grade Reconfiguration Process for the 2012-2013 school year.

Please support P.S. 9’s efforts to expand to a middle school by sending letters to the following DOE officials: Dennis Walcott, Chancellor, and Marc Sternberg, Deputy Chancellor, Division of Portfolio Planning. Please also sign this petition.

Scroll down for a sample letter you can use.

Both letters can be mailed to: New York City Department Of Education, 52 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007.




Dear Chancellor Walcott,

In keeping with your commitment to working with parents and communities on strengthening public education for our children, I hope you will support P.S. 9 Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School’s grade expansion proposal.

As a thriving and inclusive elementary school, P.S. 9 is an anchor of the vibrant, diverse community of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and surrounding neighborhoods. P.S.9 offers a barrier-free, fully accessible learning environment, school-wide enrichment programming, and has a collaborative model that promotes strong partnerships between parents, the administration and the wider community.

P.S. 9 has the vision and capability to grow into a successful middle school that would give P.S. 9 graduates a strong neighborhood middle school option while serving the needs of the District 13 community.

I support the school’s efforts to expand into a pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 school, and hope that the Letter of Intent submitted to the DOE by the P.S. 9 administration will be approved.

Thanks and best regards,

[Name, Address]

Co-location update

On Friday April 8, the DOE published its revised documents for the co-location of BECCS at 80 Underhill Avenue. These revised documents (public notice, educational impact statement [EIS] and building utilization plan [BUP]) are intended to bring the DOE into compliance with the law, as stated in the March 31 decision of NYS Commissioner of Education, David Steiner. This basically restarts the process for the co-location proposal. (The M.S. 571 phase out is not affected by these developments.)

Read the DOE's updated documents here:

The DOE will hold another public hearing at P.S. 9 on the revised co-location proposal; date is not set. We need the P.S. 9 and Prospect Heights community to come out in force and to make comments for the public record. The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will vote on the proposal on Wednesday, May 18th (6:00PM, Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106).

Those interested in joining the discussion or helping out with lobbying or legal activities can email the P.S. 9 Parent Advisory Council (PAC) at ps9pac@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Three days until the Craft Fair....

...and just two days until set-up begins! Please come and bring your neighbors. You will find a marvelous array of artists and vendors, a raffle with 50 prizes, an activity area for children (schedule: here), and delicious food—both savory and sweet. Vendors include local restaurants and the makers of jewelry, wraps, pickles, critter art, housewares, dolls, greeting cards (from Fisk & Fern, at right), and many other items. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday. However, we still need more volunteers to contribute to the fun:

Friday, April 8th
3:30 - 6:00pm: Set up. Help arrange the room and place the tables and chairs. WE NEED 4 VOLUNTEERS.

Saturday, April 9th
9am - 10:30am: Continue pre-event set-up. WE NEED 4 VOLUNTEERS.

10:00am - 1:00pm: Street teams: To draw traffic to the Fair, hand postcards to people at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, along Vanderbilt Ave., and at the Botanic Gardens. WE NEED 10 VOLUNTEERS.

11:00am - 6:00pm: Assist at the Raffle Table. WE NEED ONE MORE PERSON PER HOUR.

1:30pm - 3:30pm or 3:30pm - 5:30pm: Assist in Childcare and Kid Activity area.

6:00pm - 6:30pm: Breakdown of event. WE NEED 6 VOLUNTEERS.

Last year hundreds of people came. This is a fun, social event that showcases P.S. 9 as a neighborhood school. If you haven't had a chance to volunteer for earlier P.T.O. events, the fair offers a good chance to meet fellow parents and neighbors. To volunteer, please email the organizers or call Faye at 1-917-208-1247.

For more information: http://www.prospectheightscraftfair.com/index.html

REMINDERS: Pre-K, survey deadlines

Pre-K applications are due on April 8, this Friday. To read the Pre-K directory and other information, click here. Apply online at:


Also, school surveys are due next Friday. Please complete one to help the school and make yourself heard. To take the survey online, click at:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Commissioner's decision: what does it mean?

Dear Parents:

Today, the New York State Commissioner of Education (at right) upheld our appeal of the DOE’s decision to co-locate Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School (BECCS) in the PS9 building. While the decision's immediate effect is clear, many questions remain about what happens from here and how the DOE will proceed. Some of these questions will not be answered for some time, but we will learn much more in the near future.

What does the decision say?
The Commissioner upheld our appeal and annulled the February 3 vote of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) approving the co-location plan. While the Commissioner rejected some of our arguments, including those based on the deficiencies in the Educational Impact Statement (EIS) and in the proposal and voting process, he agreed that the DOE’s Building Utilization Plan (BUP) did not propose an equitable use of shared space such as the library and gym. The Commissioner also noted that the BUP did not assess other issues such as the effect on PS9’s after school program and the impact of the school yard closure. Although the DOE argued that the BUP could be refined, the Commissioner found that the law requires more than just a proposal for the use of shared space and that the defective BUP was a “substantive failure to analyze the impact…on the affected students.”

What does the decision mean for the DOE?
The co-location approval has been annulled, so the DOE is prohibited from proceeding with the co-location plans until it complies with New York State education law. In effect, the decision puts the DOE back where it was before the vote took place. In order to proceed with the co-location, the DOE would have to issue a revised BUP and hold a new vote of the proposal. It is difficult to know whether the DOE would be able to issue a BUP that includes a fair and comparable allocation of space, as required by the Commissioner’s decision.

Can the co-location still happen?
Yes. If the DOE issues a new BUP and the PEP approves the proposal again, the co-location could proceed. PS9 parents would again have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the NYS Commissioner of Education and would be able to take legal action if the appeal were dismissed. If those challenges did not succeed, the co-location could go forward for the 2011-2012 school year.

What happens next?
First, we celebrate! But not for long; much more work must be done. We need to complete the K-8 expansion proposal, as planned. Our other next steps depend somewhat on how the DOE decides to proceed. We will alert P.S. 9 parents to any future developments.
-Christina LaBrie and the P.S. 9 Parents Advocacy Council

Thursday, March 31, 2011

State Commissioner grants P.S. 9 parent appeal!

P.S. 9's squeeze has been stopped! Today, State Commissioner of Education David Steiner blocked the 2011-2012 move of Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School into P.S. 9's building. In a 16-page decision, Commissioner Steiner (at right) concluded that the DOE failed to justify that three schools could fairly share common facilities at 80 Underhill Ave. He annulled the February 3 majority vote of the Panel on Educational Policy (an 8-4 decision) approving the co-location. He directed DOE to stop all planning for the co-location and properly detail how the schools could fairly share the building in a brand-new Building Use Plan.
You can read the Commissioner's decision at
this link (To download, go to "File" menu, click "Download original.")

A short take: P.S. 9 won its appeal on the numbers. Starting on page 13, the commissioner cited P.S. 9's curtailed access to the library and the gymnasium, and agreed with parent advocates that DOE had not adequately addressed the apparent, embarrassing imbalance in how the schools would share the building.
P.S. 9 students now have room to breathe.

Does this mean that the co-location definitely will not happen? No such luck. DOE may try to sue in the courts to overturn this decision. Or DOE may try to meet the Commissioner's conditions (his determination of what the state's Education Law requires) and re-introduce the co-location plan for P.S. 9's building. It appears that the PEP will have to vote again for Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School to move into the building.