By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York City Department of Education (DOE) wants to get public input on their draft proposal regarding the rezoning of P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights and P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill. To that end, DOE and District 13 Community Education Council (CEC) have scheduled two town halls.
The first takes place on September 16 at P.S. 307 (209 York St.) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The second is scheduled for Sept. 21 at P.S. 8 (37 Hicks St.) from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights is so overcrowded -- operating at 140 percent capacity – it has eliminated pre-K and refused kindergarten seats to some zoned students. The problem is expected to become worse as numerous new developments in the district reach completion.
However, P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill, about 1.4 miles north of Brooklyn Heights, is undersubscribed, DOE says.
DOE first unveiled a map of the proposed change to the zone boundaries on Sept. 1. As it stands, the rezoning would place all of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, most of which are now in the P.S. 8 zone, in the P.S. 307 zone.
P.S. 8’s school zone is currently one of the largest in New York City. The P.S. 307 zone is one of the city’s smallest.
If the change is approved, the effect on the numbers of kindergarten enrollees at each school would be dramatic. During the 2014-2015 school year, there were 162 kindergarten enrollees at P.S. 8, but only 17 at P.S. 307. Under the plan, DOE projects that kindergarten enrollment at P.S. 8 would drop to the range of 120-130, while P.S. 307 would be in the range of 115-120.
The change would also affect the racial makeup of each school, according to DOE. P.S. 8’s student body is currently made up of 34 percent minority students. Under the plan, that could decrease as much as 10 percent.
The percentage of minority students at P.S. 307 would also decrease. P.S. 307 currently serves a 95 percent minority population. That would decrease to 55-65 percent.
The rezoning would go a long way towards alleviating overcrowding at P.S. 8 – but parents say the fix is only temporary. There are roughly 730 apartments on their way just in the new P.S. 8 zone, which would generate approximately 211 new elementary students, based on the city’s formula for calculating school seats, according to Brooklyn Bridge Parents.
As many as 1107 new residential developments are under construction or being planned for the new P.S. 307 zone, which would generate 321 new elementary students.
At each town hall, the DOE's Office of District Planning will give a short presentation on the rezoning scenario, and will then remain on hand (along with representatives from the CEC) for questions and comments.
DOE will make a more detailed presentation of the rezoning proposal at the CEC meeting on September 30 at P.S.307. The superintendent will submit a final proposal to the CEC for a vote at a public follow-up meeting.