FOR PARENTS TO EMAIL to MSternberg@schools.nyc.gov, D13Proposals@schools.nyc.gov, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copy and paste — check the date! sign your name! — or add in your own thoughts. You can also re-address and send to:
Chancellor Cathleen Black (Cpblack@schools.nyc.gov)
Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott (DWalcott@cityhall.nyc.gov):
January 12, 2011
Mr. Marc Sternberg
Deputy Chancellor, Division of Portfolio Planning
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mr. Sternberg,
I have reviewed the Department of Education (DOE)’s proposal that P.S. 9 share 80 Underhill Avenue (“Building K009”) with Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School and M.S. 571 until June 2013. As a New Yorker, I understand the need to efficiently use the city’s buildings. Yet as a citizen and a parent of a student at P.S. 9, I see data that clearly shows that this co-location plan will hurt the instruction of young students and will fail to serve the neighborhood‘s needs.
The DOE’s building use proposal irresponsibly restricts Pre-K to Grade 5 access to vital school facilities. The proposed schedule cuts P.S. 9’s hours in the gym by 48% each week, allocating just 9.75 hours for the school’s 29 classes. To comply with state physical education requirements, P.S. 9 will have to hold more K-5 gym classes in the auditorium—where students are limited to (dangerously) running laps through the aisles. In addition, some adaptive phys-ed classes are forced to take place in inappropriate spaces, such as the auditorium stage. The DOE’s plan also eliminates time for cleaning the cafeteria between lunch shifts, and requires half of P.S. 9’s students to eat lunch overly early, at 10:30 a.m. As for the new Book Hive library that our school community worked so hard to create (a P.S. 9 parent designed it pro bono), DOE gives the school’s 29 classes only 4.5 hours a week. (With a quarter as many students, Brooklyn East Collegiate gets two-thirds more time than P.S. 9!)
The DOE’s plan will limit the school’s ability to serve the community’s growing Pre-K through Grade 5 needs. Last year, 237 families applied for 54 seats in Pre-Kindergarten, a five-fold rise in requests from just four years ago. In September, P.S. 9 added a sixth kindergarten class to meet demand. The Census Bureau found that the number of children under five rose 35 percent from 2000 to 2007 throughout Brownstone Brooklyn, including much of District 13. Yet the DOE’s proposal caps P.S. 9 enrollment at 650 students for at least the next three years and even reduces the capacity of P.S. 9’s 5th Grade. Finally, the DOE’s plan requires that P.S. 9 turn away out-of-zone families (see EIS, footnote 23; BUP, footnote 10)—contradicting the Chancellor’s “Children First” philosophy, which celebrates parental school choice and casts it as a key measure of a school's success.
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 Sandra D’Avilar wants to expand on those successes by increasing the number of pre-K and Gifted and Talented classes and by creating a dual-language program. With demonstrated parental involvement, 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. I urge you to abandon this unwise co-location proposal and support P.S. 9’s continuing efforts to provide every student an excellent education.