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: (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

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:

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