The DOE voted on 28 proposals, 14 of which will affect schools in Brooklyn.
The Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) held the final vote on 28 proposals regarding the relocation, consolidation or closure of various public schools across the city on Tuesday at Murry Bergtraum High School. Chancellor Richard Carranza, Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose, and representatives from the mayor’s and the borough presidents’ offices were in attendance, joined by over 150 students, teachers, parents and members of the Council on High Schools who voiced their opposition to the proposals.
The meeting started with Chancellor Carranza’s announcement of the mayor’s $125 million additional funding for NYC’s schools, followed by the panel’s approval of the DOE’s amendment to the 2015-2019 Capital Plan. Some parents expressed their concerns about the amendment, pointing out that the public school infrastructure does not meet the needs of children with disability. “Only 17% public elementary schools are fully accessible,” said one parent of a child with a muscle condition. Deputy Chancellor Rose responded that the city will give more consideration to accessibility in the 2020-2024 capital plan.
Next were the hearings on each proposal. Fourteen of the proposals will impact various public schools in Brooklyn, including Aspirations Diploma Plus High School and W.E.B. Dubois Academic High School. The DOE proposed to consolidate the two Crown Heights schools in the 2018-2019 school year. Both schools are transfer high schools serving over-aged and under-credited students. Upon PEP’s approval, the name W.E.B. Dubois will be removed despite oppositions from Senator Jesse Hamilton, Assemblyman Walter Mosley and Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo. “I denounce the DOE’s proposal to remove the name W.E.B. Du Bois,” said Mosley in a statement.
The proposal to merge Brooklyn Academy and Bed-Stuy Prep, both located in the old Boys High School building in Bed-Stuy, and to move in Uncommon Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School was met with the most intense resistance. The old Boys High School is also the home of P2G, a DOE-run high school equivalency program for students over 21. Opponents of this proposal cited overcrowding as one of their issues. The stark age difference between P2G students (over 21) and Uncommon Charter School students (10-14) also raised concerns about safety. Students enrolled in P2G need to go through a security scan before entering the building while middle-schoolers do not. Deputy Chancellor Rose proposed to simply scan all the students.
After hearing from the public, PEP member April Chapman raised the question why the DOE picked the old Boys High School as the new site for Uncommon Brooklyn East Collegiate. “Is there any other option for relocating [Uncommon]?” asked Chapman. Deputy Chancellor Rose explained that “all other options have been explored and that the DOE picked the old Boys High School to best serve the students currently enrolled in the charter school.”
The session, which lasted well over eight hours, concluded with PEP approving all twenty-eight proposals; they will go into effect in August 2018.
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