RE-ZONING VOTE DELAYED:
Turns out what was thought to be the “Official Re-Zoning Proposal” (presented to a panel of District 13 CEC members on September 30th) was actually, not. WNYC’s Schoolbook reports the DOE has extended the re-zoning timeline for two months. (The CEC confirmed the change came mere hours before their Working Session Meeting was to commence on Tuesday evening.) Department Spokesperson, Devora Kaye explained, “Based on the feedback received to date, the D.O.E is proposing to extend the deadline to vote on the District 13 rezoning proposal to allow for more meaningful dialogue with impacted communities, and we’ll ensure that families are supported throughout the enrollment process.”
Up to this point, the Brooklyn Office of District Planning has managed the community engagement process. Now, the higher-ups are stepping in. Two small-group meetings are planned. The first, for Dumbo and Vinegar Hill families currently in the P.S. 8 zone who would be moved to 307. The second, for those currently zoned for P.S. 307. A third, larger gathering is anticipated to bring the two groups together. All will be overseen by Senior Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson with participation from Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose, who is responsible for school facilities. (This correspondent’s request for the dates, times and locations of these proposed meetings has not yet been answered).
Once feedback has been considered and the DOE has presented the CEC with their official proposal, the panel has 45 days in which to vote. Schoolbook adds, “A vote on an official rezoning proposal could come in December or January, a time frame officials said still would allow changes to take effect for the 2016-17 school year.”
Almost simultaneously to this decision, School’s Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced via press release the DOE would begin the Kindergarten application process one month earlier than last year. Families may apply online between December 7, 2015 and January 15, 2016. Placement offer letters would be sent in Mid-March. “By making kindergarten offers earlier, we will make the process easier for families and strengthen the transition between pre-K and kindergarten. This is a common-sense approach to helping our families and students,” said Fariña.
The application process and admissions priority structure remain the same. To learn more, parents are encouraged to visit the DOE’s website, www.nyc.gov/schools/
So when will that 45-day clock start ticking? Will the DOE further revise the re-zoning proposal? When will a final version be presented to the CEC? Will the DOE enable the CEC to vote on re-zoning prior to the Kindergarten application period? Much depends on the feedback the DOE receives from this new round of meetings and their ability to move quickly. If there is no vote by January 15th (the close of K applications), Dumbo and Vinegar Hill will remain zoned for P.S. 8. If the CEC votes yes, would implementation be shelved until the 2017-18 school year or will the DOE work some back-office magic in time to send placement letters? If re-zoning is voted down, then what?
With these developments, a substantial wait-list at P.S. 8 has now entered the realm of possibility for 2016-17. If a wait-list does come to pass, it will likely be longer than last year’s of 50 students. Whether you are “nay” or “yay” for the re-zoning, now is the time to weigh-in. Comments, questions and concerns may be shared with the CEC, Office of District Planning and D13 Superintendent Barbara Freeman via the CEC’s webform.
Parents would also do themselves a service to explore all education options in addition to their zoned school (D13 and/or D15 elementary schools and choice schools, Gifted & Talented, charter and private schools). Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions has an excellent primer posted on their website. Stay tuned for dates and times of upcoming DOE and CEC meetings.