Brooklyn Ink on P.S. 8’s Progress

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Brooklyn Ink takes at look at P.S. 8 today:

Brooklyn Ink: The staff has nearly doubled in size to match demand, growing from 24 to 40 full time teachers. Due to the lack of space, teachers work without a lounge. They’ve taken to eating lunch in the library. Teachers have developed several methods for coping with the squeeze. A tight schedule is in place to shuttle students to different classes, to lunch, and to recess.

Some fixes, however, are not perfect. The art teacher pushes a cart of supplies from room to room. The dance teacher moves the desks against a wall to turn a classroom into a dance floor. The drama teacher teaches class in the auditorium. None of them have ever had rooms of their own. Everyone on the faculty is affected. For the past year, the principal shared his office with his assistant principal. He also held every staff meeting there, in a room that looks like it could hold ten people at most.

“It’s a scheduling nightmare,” says the school’s librarian, Amanda Green. Teachers are unhappy having to jump over so many hurdles she says, but can see the finish line up ahead. Green looks forward to moving into a brand new library once the annex is finished.

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  • John Sean

    I wonder what could happen to the schooling space and class room crowding if the JW were to exit BH and sell their properties – at that point, with the influx of a lot more families, the schooling situation could reach a real crisis point….

  • bklyn20

    No need to worry about that!

    How about if all the apartments in 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park sell, and hold a large number of families with children? Then it’s already a problem! If the proposed ADDITIONAL housing inside the park in DUMBO and on the uplands of Pier 6 near State Street goes up — the problem is doubly exacerbated. Those fenced-in squares neat the Pier 6 playgrounds and dog run are the proposed locations for the 2 tall condo towers inside the south end of the park. Notice that that they are not labelled as such, to keep the general public as blindfolded as possible.

    Don’t cast a Brooklyn Bridge Park free of additional housing as a PS 8 killer — the current park plan for many more hundreds of units is already in place to do the deed. If the park as planned by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp et al goes forward, over 1,250 units of housing are going up.

    If housing is to fund the park in any way, better to use extant buildings OUTSIDE the park rather than construct new 30-story behemoths inside the park.

  • bklyn20

    Not neat, but rather NEAR Pier 6. Not neat in any way.

  • Heightsman

    The view is never free…

  • js

    PS 8 may find itself in the same situation as PS 321 in Park Slope. The development on and close to Fourth Ave has added hundreds of apartments, many of them two- and three-bedroom family-friendly apartments. Being in the 321 zone is a selling point, and that school is now bursting at the seams. Class sizes have risen every year, and will continue to do so unless there is a re-zoning (think riots in the streets) or classrooms added (think 5+ years). In the meantime, the fifth grade classes there have 30-32 students each, and the fourth grade classes have 28. How is it that our “all-about-education” mayor can allow development on such a large scale without adding seats to local public schools?

  • jjj

    I don’t understand how staff doubled and yet they cut out some classes. For example, the kindergarten class went from 4 last year to 3 this year. From 20 students per class to 27 students per class with one teacher.

  • Peter

    P S 8 is a dumping ground for parents who can’t afford private school. it is in no way a great school.

  • nabeguy

    Too bad kids can’t vote, right js? Rapid development may have brought quick money into the city coffers, but it’s far outpaced any concomitant investment in the city infrastructure, whether that be water pipes or schools. That’s one of the basic fallacies behind gentrification…buy down-trodden real-estate at low prices, develop it and offer it at high prices and let the neighborhood sort itself out with the expectation that improvement will follow. Unfortunately, much of that is occurring in areas that were written off by the city in the past. Given that the DOE is usually about 10 years behind the curve, I wouldn’t hold your breath for any instant solutions to the problem.

  • BHer

    jjj – Just to clarify – the kindergarten went from 5 sections last year to 4 this year. The school is in the process of hiring teaching assistants for the kindergarten and third grade classes (these two grades have more than 25 kids/class).

    The staff has doubled gradually over the past 6 or 7 years. The population in the school has almost doubled in that same time period. The addition to the building, which will be open in September 2011 will add 7 new classrooms, a new cafeteria/gym and library. This will alleviate the space issues the school now has.

  • BHer

    Peter, may I ask what your experience is with the school?

  • nabeguy

    Peter, that is an ignorant statement. Not only am I a Saint Ann’s graduate and neighborhood resident, I can well afford to send my daughter there…but that doesn’t mean I was handed a free ticket. In case you’re unaware, the principle of P.S.8 graduated from Brooklyn Friends, a private school, and the programs that he’s instituted are about as near as you’ll get to a private school curriculum as the city will allow. In fact, having compared it to both Saint Ann’s and Packers, I can truly say that I have no regrets about sending my daughter to 8. Her artwork was in the Guggenheim Museum this past spring, while Saint Ann’s students had theirs in the windows of Pierrepont Street.

  • jjj

    BHer, thanks for the clarification!

  • js

    Peter, that’s an ignorant statement indeed. How wonderful for you that you can afford private school for your children. How awful for your children that they may inherit your elitist and misguided attitude. My children went to a NYC public elementary school. Like nabeguy, I had a choice, and chose public school. My children got an excellent education, and also had the quintessential NY experience of having friends from all kinds of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. I have experience with private schools and know that doesn’t happen there. I know my kids’ experience has kept them well grounded and appreciative of what they have. In other words, less spoiled than some.

  • davoyager

    I’m really thinking we should hold on to the trailers while we got them. The local population continues to grow. I have never seen the streets so crowded and new development continues almost as if there wasn’t any recession. I think PS 8 is gonna outgrow this new building in 3 or 4 years and there is no place else to grow so… Principal Phillips, please consider holding on to those trailers and finding recess space in the new exercise gym and renovated cafeteria and using Squibb and Cadmin and the new Brooklyn Bridge Park as out door space.
    It’s 4 more classrooms. You know we’re gonna need them.

  • davoyager

    I would guess that if PS 8 kept those 4 classrooms in the trailers and opened up enrollment to magnet grant neighborhoods we would be overcrowded in 1 or 2 years.. People around the city want to send their kids to PS 8 and we can open our doors wider and become a greater school.

  • bkny

    If my memory is correct the trailer is quipped to handle two classes only. PS 32’s has many trailers along the side of their school and its for pre-k till fourth grade.

  • bklyn20

    Peter, think of it this way: If our beautiful wonderful children attend PS8 — by choice or by financial need — that leaves more openings for your beautiful wonderful children to get into St Ann’s, Packer or Friends. See — I’m trying to strike a positive note here!