P.S. 8: Here Come the Trailers

As Brooklyn Heights Blog reported yesterday, this Friday is the deadline for parents to sign up their kids for P.S. 8’s pre-K program. The other part of that story is reported in today’s NY Daily News — the pre-K classes (or other classes) will happen in trailers:

NY Daily News: Brooklyn Heights School…: Brooklyn Heights might seem like an unlikely place to find trailers, but students at the neighborhood’s increasingly popular public school will attend classes in two next fall.

“The school has been a victim of its own success,” said Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights).

Department of Education officials told Public School 8 parents this week that portable classrooms would have to be put in the parking lot so prekindergarten classes can be offered in the fall.

The story adds that Yassky says he’d looking into using the old precinct building at 72 Poplarrumored to be leased to DUMBO’s League Treatment Center – as an extension of the school. Department of Education officials tell the newspaper they are not interested in expanding at this time.

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  • ABC

    1. I don’t think these portable classrooms/trailers are so bad.
    2. But, I do think they should dump pre-k — it is realistically only available to “priority” families (ie, families with kids already at PS8). Then, if there is room, to zoned families via lottery. Why throw money/trailers at something that isn’t a permanent solution?
    3. 72 Poplar would cost a zillion dollars to renovate — and the need for a middle school greatly outweighs PS8’s space issues.
    4. Why not ditch pre-k, build something permanent in that parking lot for say, eight K and 1st grade classrooms (4 over 4). So much cheaper than renovating 72 Poplar and there are many cool, green, affordable modular building options out there that would be perfect for this. And it could be classrooms only — gym, library, etc all could be in “main” building. That current building is large and should be able to handle 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Even at 4 classes per, that’s only 16 classrooms.
    5. While the school is the victim of it’s own success, it’s also been impacted by the addition of an entire neighborhood – DUMBO – that’s basically been added to the zone in the last 5-10 years. There were no (few) kids in Dumbo 10 years ago. This is why the city has to pony up a little money for a permanent solution.

  • danno

    1. Agreed. They sure beat tents.
    2. It turns out that there aren’t all that many out-of-zone siblings, and I think the intent is to limit the number of new out-of-zone kids so this will become less of a problem in a few years. But Principal Philips deserves high marks for keeping a commitment to parents of out-of-zone kids who were attracted by the just-ended magnet grant.
    3. There’s been a lot of talk about 78 Poplar, either for a middle school or for expansion space for PS 8. There’s never been any indication that the DOE wants to buy it, or that the seller wants to sell.
    4. The plan, as I understand it, is to build permanently in the parking lot. But the classroom need is immediate, and construction takes 3 to 5 years to start. There are fewer classrooms there than you might think, when you take into account things like offices, the auditorium, library, computer lab, and dedicated rooms for art and science (which was eliminated this past year).
    5. With the growth of DUMBO and the increasing tendency of Heights families to turn to PS 8, you’re absolutely right: there needs to be a permanent solution that’s larger than four trailer classrooms. At least the issue now seems to be on the DOE’s map.

  • Joe

    I think it would be better not to have a pre-K at all if you are going to put the children in trailers. I know this is based on my preconception of trailers but I guess the idea of trailers as a school room doesn’t sound right to me and I’m probably not the only parent who feels that way. Perhaps a different name may help e.g. “temporary extension”.

  • statestreeter

    Are the trailers actually for the pre-K? I read the article to mean that because they need space in the school for the pre-K, they are going to move some k-5 kids into trailers.

  • mtierney

    I think all of the comments are interesting as is the current issues facing PS 8 and the 5th graders graduating with no local middle school options (that is unless I missed a school out there).

    As a PS 8 parent who committed herself to the school in 2004 (the year my son attended the Pre-K), I have been increasingly impressed and grateful to the school and staff for their commitment to the students and parents. My friends and I waited to see what was going to happen with the Pre-K this year as this September is when my daughter and some of her friends would attend the PS 8 should the Pre-K continue there. Of course I am grateful that it will continue.

    Trailers or not, I think we would all agree that problem of space should be addressed and resolved. I can’t imagine that anyone, least of all the DOE, would not be aware that if a school became popular and well attended that there would be a population of children in need of appropriate facilites and a middle school to eventually attend upon graduation.

    I guess we will all have to stay tuned…….

  • statestreeter

    Is the distance of the middle school any different than what is available to kids in the rest of the city? My understanding is that the middle school is simply not one that parents in this neighborhood want to send their kids to – it’s not that a school is unavailable. If it’s a quality issue, then why can’t what was replicated at PS8 via personnel be done at the existing middle school?

  • nabeguy

    If Seth Phillips could be cloned and we could convince the DOE to take the same leaps of faith with a middle school as they did with PS 8, then I’d agree with statestreeter. Unfortunately, that kind of replication would require a siesmic shift in DOE thinking and would take years to accomplish even if it occured, a period much too long for parent with kids now in the 4th and 5th grades. I think a lot of these parents, myself included, are feeling a bit abandoned by the system. We love the school and it’s staff, but are frustrated by the DOE’s inability to recognize it’s overwhelming success and to build on it. You can us whiny, you can call us elitist, you can call us whatever you want, but you can’t call us disloyal, as many parents have stuck it out from pre-K on in the hope of a new middle school.

  • http://www.myspace.com/billyreno Billy Reno

    My twin girls go to PS 261 and their pre-k was in two separate portables across the schoolyard from the main bldg., which they’re in now (K). The teachers were amazing and they got a lot out of it. When you walk in, they look like any other pre-k. It doesn’t matter where you learn. What matters is the curriculum and who’s teaching them.