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January , 2011
On Monday, January 24th, several hundred parents and members of the community came to show their support for P.S. 9 at the Department of Education (DOE) Public Hearing at P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
The DOE is proposing that P.S. 9 share 80 Underhill Avenue (“Building K009”) with Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School and M.S. 571 until June 2013. On Thursday, February 3rd, a DOE panel will vote whether to move forward with this plan. As an involved parent at PS 9, I want to alert you that this plan is riddled with critical inaccuracies and errors. If approved, the co-location would severely harm the learning environment of elementary school students at PS 9 and would stunt the progress of a thriving community school.
Some major flaws in the DOE plan include:
· The DOE projects additional students at P.S. 9 but has not allocated adequate classroom space for them. Nor has it come up with a plan for repurposing rooms already in use. P.S. 9 may be short of as many as 15 classrooms in five years.
· The DOE’s plan will restrict P.S. 9’s ability to serve the growing Pre-K through Grade 5 needs of Prospect Heights and surrounding neighborhoods. Last year, 237 families applied for 54 seats in Pre-Kindergarten, a five-fold rise in requests from just four years ago. To meet demand during the past two Septembers, P.S. 9 added a fifth, then a sixth kindergarten class. This year, demand continues to grow: according to P.S. 9’s registrar, in the first 2 weeks of registration—and with 6 weeks remaining—106 students have enrolled for P.S. 9’s kindergarten; last year's K class was 117.
· The EIS erroneously asserts that the building has two gymnasiums – there’s only one.
· The DOE doesn’t acknowledge the use of P.S. 9’s use of the gymnasium after 3 p.m. for two different afterschool programs, serving 100 families a day. One is sponsored by the school’s P.T.O., which generates revenue for the school. These programs will most likely be dislodged by the middle school’s plan to use the gym after 3 p.m.
· The plan also doesn’t make time for cleaning up the cafeteria between shifts. Teachers have recommended that students eat lunch later than 10:30, to increase instructional time in the morning, yet sharing the cafeteria with 3 schools makes this even less likely.
This proposed co-location will undermine a successful program in a rapidly expanding public school, and seriously harm the learning environment for P.S. 9’s elementary school students. That is why the PS 9 school leadership has proposed and has filed a Letter of Interest to expand the school from Pre-K to 8. This natural expansion will fill the DOE's and our community’s needs for more top-quality middle schools in District 13.
Please do not accept at face value the misleading and error-ridden analysis that DOE has given you and voice your rejection of the co-location plan for PS 9 before February 3rd.
Thank you for your consideration.