The D13 CEC held their monthly Calendar Meeting at P.S. 8 on Tuesday night. First, Superintendent Barbara Freeman reported on the status of the Socioeconomic Integration Pilot Program (SES) Grant, an award of $1.25 million dollars in Title 1 funding. The monies are earmarked for the foundation of a Spanish dual language program at M.S. 113 and the establishment of a Family Resource Center. The District applied for the grant upon the recommendation of the District 13 Task Force for Equal Access to Academic Excellence and Diversity. The task force was formed at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year to address severe inequities of socioeconomic status and academic achievement within District 13 schools.
WHY MIDDLE SCHOOL MATTERS:
The majority of the agenda was dedicated to the discussion of D13’s middle schools. As previously reported, the DOE’s has proposed to re-site M.S. 313, a.k.a Satellite West, to the new Dock Street School in Dumbo (the school is currently co-located with P.S. 307). The move would free up hundreds of seats for elementary students at P.S. 307, facilitating the re-zoning of P.S. 8 and P.S. 307. However, CEC members Robert Underwood and Maggie Spillane have objected to the plan, saying the DOE has reneged on its promise of a new middle school (sometimes referred to as I.S. 611) in favor of a re-design. They have said they could not vote “yes” on the re-zoning until a comprehensive plan for M.S. 313 has been revealed.
Their views have been expressed in detail on Mr. Underwood’s personal Tumblr blog and at CEC meetings. During the “round robin” Amy Shire respectfully disagreed with her colleagues saying, “I am not afraid of the redesign [of M.S. 313] as a solution…I think what it’s going to take is trust…commitment and accountability.” Maggie Spillane shared her “disappointment” in the proposal is based on the DOE’s lack of consistency and the amount of time needed to properly support a successful re-design. Ms. Spillane feels that while “a re-design is an exciting possibility…[M.S. 313] is not currently a “reliable option,” and “reality shows that parents are voting with their feet” by seeking elementary schools outside of District 13 in order to avail themselves of “reliable” middle schools later on. She added that she hopes the time-frame given in the re-design of M.S. 313 “does not become the template” for school development moving forward. When asked if the DOE could fully execute an M.S. 313 redesign by September 2016, a member of the Office of District Planning responded with a resounding “yes” adding, “it’s all we do.”
Superintendent Freeman shared that an MS 313 Working group of about twenty individuals has been formed and will comprise a “cross section of all stakeholders in the district” including “principals, teachers, parents, CEC members, president’s council, elected officials, [and] community based organizations.” Their first brainstorming session is October 27th at M.S. 313. The Superintendent and the Working Group will then host four public district forums on the following dates (with all meetings will take place at 6:30 pm):
- November 9th at P.S. 3, 50 Jefferson Avenue
- November 12 at P.S. 133, 610 Baltic Street
- November 16 at M.S. 313, 209 York Street
- November 30 at P.S. 11, 419 Waverly Avenue
IMPORTANT: The Panel for Education Policy (PEP) M.S. 313 re-siting vote is scheduled for November 19th at 6:00 pm at M.S. 131 located at 100 Hester Street, New York, NY 10002. As an aside, sources within the DOE’s Office of Space planning have expressed previously that Chancellor Carmen Farina strongly believes middle schools should not co-locate with elementary schools. Chancellor Farina is a non-voting member of the PEP.
As previously reported by Schoolbook, the re-zoning vote has been delayed for two months to collect more feedback from those effected by the re-zoning. In case you think the DOE has been sitting on its hands, here’s what’s been happening behind the scenes.
- Prior to the CEC meeting, the DOE’s Office of District Planning released a comprehensive re-zoning FAQ’s which addresses many of the questions posed during the public meetings held on September 16th and September 20th and comments submitted via the CEC webform.
- The DOE held true to their promise to host two small group meetings with key stakeholders. Sr. Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson and Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose met privately with CEC members, Principals, parents, members of School leadership Teams, PTA’s and representatives of community based organizations. The meetings were held at P.S. 8 on Wednesday, October 14th and and again on Monday,October 19th at P.S. 307. The meetings were arranged by the DOE and were by invitation only. The DOE plans to hold a larger meeting to bring both communities together.
- The DOE is now aiming to submit their final re-zoning proposal to the CEC during the week of November 23rd. The “drop dead” voting deadline would then be January 5, 2016.
- Kindergarten Admissions Enrollment period begins December 7th and closes January 15th and the Kindergarten directories will indicate a re-zoning is currently under consideration. David Goldsmith indicated that families within the P.S. 8 and 307 zones will receive “individual attention” and “hand-holding” from the DOE’s Office of Enrollment.
At the September 30th CEC meeting, Amy Shire asked attendees, “for all of the people who think that there isn’t enough time…for people who want to postpone this for another year…What kind of conversations need to be had? What kind of concrete plans need to be put into place? What kind of trust needs to be built?” As a follow up, David Noll the parent of a child entering Kindergarten next year, asked if there has been any “salient responses” to her query. Parent and Orienteering expert, Tiernan urged the CEC to “think about four year-olds and geography” when considering the re-zoning.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Make your voice heard. Whether you are “yay” or “nay,” the CEC and DOE are looking for feedback from all District 13 families no matter what their school affiliation. If you have not yet shared your opinion, thoughts, concerns or suggestions on the re-zoning, you may send them privately via the CEC webform.
- Attend the CEC meetings and your school’s PTA meetings. The next CEC meetings are scheduled for November 10th and 24th, locations TBD. The next P.S. 8 PTA meeting is TONIGHT (Thursday, October 22nd) at 6:00 pm.
- Attend the Class Size Matters’ Parent Action Conference on November 7th being held at P.S. 133.
- Attend the middle school meeting on November 16th and the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) meeting on November 19th.