Monday, January 10, 2011

Revised: Reasons to oppose DOE proposal for a new school

We've edited the earlier post about reasons to oppose the DOE's plan to place a new charter middle school in P.S. 9's building. Now our summary has more data and details!


The Department of Education’s plan to relocate a new middle school into our building severely harms the learning environment for K-5 students and seriously restricts P.S. 9’s ability to serve our community’s needs.

3 reasons to oppose the DOE’s plan:

1. The DOE plan ignores the growing needs of our community.

P.S. 9 and the neighborhood are growing. P.S. 9 added a sixth kindergarten class this year to meet demand. In Pre-K, 237 families applied for 54 seats, a five-fold rise in requests from four years ago. Yet the DOE’s new plan locks P.S. 9 enrollment at 650 students for at least the next three years! It also reduces the capacity of P.S. 9’s 5th Grade, pushing students to transfer after 4th Grade! The DOE’s proposal demands that P.S. 9 turn away out-of-zone families (see EIS, footnote 23) — contradicting the Chancellor’s “Children First” philosophy, which celebrates parental school choice and casts it as a key measure of a school's success. With these restrictions, the DOE chokes off the school’s ability to serve the community’s growing Pre-K through Grade 5 needs. This plan does not put families and children first.

2. The DOE’s plan will harm the learning environment at P.S. 9.

The DOE’s building-use plan severely restricts K-5 access to vital school facilities in order to accommodate the new middle school:

•The DOE has virtually eliminated P.S. 9’s access to the new Book Hive library that our school community worked so hard to create, allocating a measly 4.5 hours per week for P.S. 9’s 29 classes. (With a quarter as many students, the charter school gets two-thirds more time than P.S. 9.!)

•The DOE’s schedule cuts P.S. 9’s hours in the gym by 43% each week. This will force yet more K-5 gym classes to be held in the auditorium — having students run laps through the aisles is as dangerous as it is ridiculous.

•The DOE has eliminated time for cleaning the cafeteria between lunch shifts, and requires half of P.S. 9’s students to eat lunch at 10:30 a.m.

3. The DOE’s plan blocks P.S. 9’s efforts to expand vitally important programs. As a barrier-free school with new, accessible playground facilities, P.S. 9 serves students with special needs and provides a fertile environment for many groups of learners. P.S. 9 Principal D’Avilar wants to expand on those successes by increasing the number of pre-K classes, by creating a dual-language program, and by accepting more gifted-and-talented students from the district. P.S. 9 has the vision and capacity to offer a wide variety of vitally important programs and services to our neighborhood and surrounding communities – but only if the DOE’s plan is stopped.

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