Brooklyn Heights Blog » schools Dispatches from America's first suburb Sat, 19 Jan 2019 03:56:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Annual PS8/MS8 Holiday Market December 1st — Vendors Wanted! Mon, 19 Nov 2018 22:14:53 +0000

Are you a business or an artisan/freelancer/hobbyist/pedlar looking for a venue to sell your crafts and wares to actual humans in the neighborhood that doesn’t involve a certain monopolistic corporate entity bent on owning us all? You’re in luck! The Annual PS8/MS8 Holiday Market is this December 1st, and they are still looking for vendors (sign up here):

Calling all creatives! Are you someone with a craft/artisanal product you’d like to sell? Starting a business and want to showcase your product to the neighborhood? PS8/MS8 is looking for vendors for their annual Holiday Market. The event will held on Saturday, December 1st from 12pm – 4pm – registration for vendors is open now and can be accessed via this link.
This event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. There will be crafts and fun for the kids, great shopping for the adults, and lots of delicious food! Hope to see you there!


]]> 0
Proposals on the Table for PS/MS8 to Split: Community Meeting Tues 10/30 Mon, 29 Oct 2018 06:57:20 +0000

IMPORTANT SCHOOL NEWS: On October 12th, the DOE Brooklyn Office of District Planning issued two proposals that affect District 13. The first plan calls for the truncation of P.S.8 from a Kindergarten through-8th grade school to a Kindergarten through 5th grade school. The proposal has an accompanying K008 Educational Impact Statement. The second, contingent upon the first, asks to establish a new Middle School in place of M.S. 8.  The second proposal also has a corresponding K580 Educational Impact Statement.

HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?:  While this news may come as a surprise to the public, it is not for the parents of current P.S. 8/M.S. 8 students. The topic of a “school split” has been under discussion both informally and formally within the school community prior to the departure of now retired Principal, Seth Phillips. In a recent communique to middle school parents the PTA Leadership explained, “after many school-wide conversations, our School Leadership Team (comprised of lower and middle school parents and teachers, as well as our principal)” informed the DOE in June 2018 of their support for the split citing “a variety of reasons including focus, funding, and vision.”

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?: As a K-8 school, currently P.S.8 has one budget and one administration but is housed at two sites. The Lower School (referred to as K008) is located on Hicks Street (K-5) and the M.S. 8 Middle School (6-8) resides at the George Westinghouse High School building on Tech Place (referred to as K580). Per the DOE, “If both proposals are approved by the PEP [Panel for Education Policy], [a] beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, P.S. 8 will only serve students in grades K-5 in building K008 and will no longer serve students in grades 6-8 in K580 or exist as a middle school option. [b] If both proposals are approved, the new district middle school will open in the space previously occupied by [M.S. 8] in K580 and serve approximately 255-285 students in grades 6-8 beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.  

NEXT STEPS: First, there is an opportunity for families both immediately and directly impacted by these changes to have a conversation with the DOE’s Office of District Planning to have their specific questions answered at a Community Meeting on Tuesday.

What: Community Meeting
When: October 30, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Where: The George Westinghouse Campus Cafeteria, 105 Tech Place, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Additionally, two formal Joint Public Hearings are planned for mid November.  These meetings will offer an opportunity for public comments but not a direct Q&A with the DOE.

What: Joint Public Hearing
When: November 19, 2018

Time: 6:oo p.m.
Where: Building K580, 105 Tech Place, Brooklyn, NY 11201

What: Joint Public Hearing
When: November 20, 2018

Time: 6:00 p.m.
Where: P.S. 8 Lower School/Building K008, 37 Hicks Street, Brooklyn NY 11201

If you are not able to attend any of these scheduled meetings, you may provide written or oral comments via email at -OR- by calling DOE Office of District Planning’s, Will Candell at 212-374-0208.  Written and oral comment on these proposals will be accepted from October 11, 2018 through November 27, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.

Finally, Panel for Education Policy (PEP) will vote on the proposals:

When: November 28, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Where: Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106

Should the proposals be approved, a working group will be created to collaborate directly with the DOE’s Office of New Schools and the larger D13 community to craft the school’s vision and best practices on how to support and nurture that vision.

DISCLOSURE: SongBirdNYC is a P.S. 8 parent.

]]> 2
P.S. 8 Middle School Responds to “Biased” NY Post Article Fri, 11 May 2018 22:14:19 +0000

On Sunday May 6th, The New York Post ran an article by Sara Dorn and Susan Edelman featuring P.S. 8 parents who have chosen to send their children to a local charter school rather than M.S. 8.  (The Robert Fulton School is a K-8 school). The detailed response was jointly signed by the PTA Executive Board and School Leadership Team (SLT). It is reproduced  HERE in full.

“Dear New York Post editorial staff, Sara Dorn and Susan Edelman,

We write in response to a biased and poorly reported story that ran in the New York Post on Sunday, May 6, 2018, regarding Brooklyn Heights parents choosing to leave the neighborhood for middle school. Many 5th grade parents were approached for comment, but those that shared positive experiences and stories were left out of the article. One parent of an MS8 graduate and current 5th grader excited to attend MS8 was told by the reporter Sara Dorn that her comments were not needed because the reporter had already heard positive things about MS8 from parents sending their children there and she was specifically looking for parents sending their children to charter schools. Despite the good expressed about MS8 by so many, there was little positive language about the school in the article. The article’s purpose appeared to be the denigration of a neighborhood public school in favor of another school. To have the hard work and success of MS8’s teachers, students, administrators, and parents reflected so poorly, for the sake of pitting one hard-working school against another, is a disservice and an insult to all involved and invested in public education in New York City.

School choice can be valuable for parents and guardians in pursuit of the right educational fit for their children. To disparage a school like MS8, which has successfully traversed the various transitions one might expect at a fledgling school, is unnecessary and unappreciated by the community that has poured its heart into ensuring its success.

Furthermore, at a time when the stark racial segregation in NYC public schools is again in the headlines, the under-reported story is that MS8 is a success. It is an example of a racially (34% white, 41% black, 16% Hispanic, 1% American Indian/Alaskan, 4% Asian, 1% Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 3% multiracial), ethnically and socio-economically mixed public middle school serving students of all academic levels that is working hard to support and foster an inclusive, supportive school environment. The commitment of MS8 teachers, administrators, students and parents to racial diversity and equity shows in the ELA and Social Studies curriculum and has led to various programs to support restorative justice practices and persistent dialogue about equity both in the school and community at large. With the continued efforts of engaged students, parents, guardians, administrators and teachers, we continue to strengthen our MS8 community.

Most importantly perhaps, MS8 is succeeding academically. MS8’s high school admissions have been strong. MS8 offers Regents Algebra and Living Environment to all students in 8th grade, and students have historically done very well on those tests. MS8 also has a new science lab, a lovely art room, a fitness room upstairs (MS8 students currently have exclusive access to the larger gym one period a day, and additional access is expected to be available for sports team practice next year), and we are forging science and other partnerships with neighbor universities City Tech College and NYU Tandon. That the Spanish teacher left in the beginning of the academic year due to familial illness and could not be replaced was difficult, but the program is expected to resume in the fall.

Every marker indicates that MS8 is growing nicely into its position as a cornerstone of middle school education in District 13. The MS8 community is excited to welcome the many students continuing from our lower to our middle school next year, and all those joining us from the other amazing District 13 elementary schools.


The PS8/MS8 PTA Executive Board & School Leadership Team”

DISCLOSURE: SongBirdNYC is a PS8 parent and member of the School Leadership Team.

Photo Credit:


]]> 0
PS8 Student Art Premiers at Guggenheim Museum Thu, 10 May 2018 20:58:34 +0000

From the “It’s never too late to report good news” files…

On the evening of April 26th the Guggenheim held an opening reception for A Year of Children 2018, an annual exhibition featuring student work from the museum’s teaching artist’s residency program, Learning Through Art.  Per the Guggenheim website, “the program sends experienced teaching artists into New York City public schools, where they collaborate with classroom teachers to develop and facilitate art projects integrated into the school curriculum.” Brooklyn Heights’ own, P.S. 8 has enriched their third and fourth grade art curriculum with this 20-week program for many years. And, as previously reported by Bklyner, two blossoming artists from the school are featured in the show, 4th Grader, Zoe and 3rd grader, Fionn.


Third grade students worked along the theme of “Finding Their Way” and fabricated soft sculptures of their “wayfinders” or landmarks that represented things they either saw, heard, felt or smelled on their travels back and forth to school.  Text accompanying the work explained the Fourth graders “learned about the concept of avatars as a representation of an alter ego or character and created their own based on aspects of their identity but with added imaginative or exaggerated elements.” Students then created relief self portraits using monoprints, stamps, foam etching prints and other methods.

IMG_5563The museum also invites at least one student per grade to act as docents. Those chosen attended training sessions, wrote a speech, practiced delivery, and spoke at the adults only opening about their work and their experience with the residency.  Fourth grader, Zoe shared, “It made me feel excited about continuing to make art, knowing that I’ve had the privilege of being a student docent at the Guggenheim.”

Congratulations to Zoe and Fionn! The exhibition is on view through June 13th.


Guggenheim Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Jean-Christophe BENOIST
Gallery Photo Credit: Caren Gandelman


]]> 0
St. Ann’s Middle School Head Resigns; School Investigating Allegations Involving Others Going Back Many Years Sat, 24 Mar 2018 19:28:16 +0000

Buzz Feed reports that the former head of the middle school at St. Ann’s School resigned following reports that he had given parties at which students, though no current students, and recent alumni under legal drinking age had been served or allowed to consume alcohol and to smoke marijuana.

According to the Buzz Feed story, which quotes a letter sent in October 2017 to members of the St. Ann’s community by school head Vince Tompkins and Board of Trustees chair Jonathan Weld, the school is investigating allegations of “inappropriate physical contact with students by past employees of the school.” The letter said that the allegations “are to date small in number, and do not extend to any current administrators, faculty, staff or students.” The alleged incidents were said to have occurred in the 1990s or before; a later letter from Tompkins said they extended back as far as the 1960s.

Buzz Feed further quotes Tompkins and Weld in their October letter: “To distort the boundaries of the student-teacher relationship is antithetical to our school’s most deeply-held values and undermines the foundations of our educational mission … Such behavior is not, and will not be, tolerated at Saint Ann’s.”

]]> 0
Public Schools Closed Tomorrow Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:41:12 +0000 Update: Schools are open tomorrow; Thursday, March 22. Notify NYC has announced that all New York City public schools are closed tomorrow, Wednesday, March 21 because of winter storm Toby. After school activities are also cancelled. There’s more information here. Update: Brooklyn Public Library branches are also closed for the storm.

]]> 0
Gun In Schools Vs. Neighborhood Noise Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:03:42 +0000

In today’s example of Politics At Its Worst, noise in our neighborhood from the BQE project is being made a pawn in the school safety bet, with state Senate Republicans tying streamlining the BQE project to a provision that would require guns in schools in New York City.

As reported by Brooklyn Paper in an article with the dismayingly clever headline “Troubleshooting: Electeds tie faster BQE fix with (sic) deploying gun-toting cops in schools,” Republican state senators will agree to allow the city to use design-build to facilitate the work on the BQE–and thus minimize its effects on our neighborhood–if “firearm-carrying officers” are required “in public learning houses.”
Unsurprisingly, this idea has not gone over well.

“I find it very distressing that they would connect these two issues,” said Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, whose Democratic majority in the lower chamber released its own one-house budget that included authorization for design-build without any conditions. “I don’t think the recent events inspire confidence in that approach — this is a very troubling proposal.”

Senators Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Simcha Felder (D–Midwood) are reported to have drafted a simple proposal with Democrat Brian Kavanagh, a state senator whose district includes Brooklyn Heights, likened the proposal to New Jersey’s infamous Bridgegate.

“Is this an example of the majority, if they don’t get their way on a certain policy issue, however legitimate, suggesting that perhaps ‘it’s time for traffic problems in Brooklyn,’ to borrow a phrase from New Jersey?” said Democrat Brian Kavanagh.

The state budget, of which these provisions would be a part, has a deadline of April 1 for approval, so if you want to make your feelings on this issue known, now is the time to call. And, if I may editorialize for a moment, this is a despicable union of two entirely unrelated issues, and we should let the state know that as concerned as we are about the BQE project, putting more guns in schools is not the way to address those concerns.

Get the full story at Brooklyn Paper

Photo: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons. Used with permission.

]]> 0
Alternate Side Parking Suspended Tomorrow Wed, 17 Jan 2018 03:42:00 +0000 Tomorrow — Wednesday, January 17 — alternate side of the street parking rules are suspended to facilitate snow removal, but meter requirements remain in effect. NYC schools will be open.

]]> 0
Deadline for Kindergarten Applications this Friday; Pre-K Application Process Starts February 5 Wed, 10 Jan 2018 03:48:31 +0000

We’ve been notified by the Brooklyn Heights Association that the deadline for filing applications for kindergarten at public schools like P.S. 8 (photo; Chuck Taylor for BHB) is this Friday, January 12. You may apply on-line at the Department of Education website or by phone at 718-935-2009. The application process for Pre-K begins on February 5; there’s more information here.

]]> 0
NYC Schools Open Tomorrow; Alternate Side Rules Suspended Through Saturday Fri, 05 Jan 2018 02:30:22 +0000 Update: Alternate side rules are now suspended through Wednesday, January 10. New York City public schools are open tomorrow (Friday, January 4), including for all scheduled after-school activities. Packer, Brooklyn Friends, and Brooklyn Heights Montessori remain on regular Winter Break. We suspect St. Ann’s does, too, but they’ve yet to update their January calendar. Having heard nothing further, we presume Brooklyn Public Library branches will be open. Alternate side parking rules remain suspended through Saturday, January 6.

]]> 1
Olivia Ellis, Co-Architect of PS 8’s Turn-Around, Has Passed Sun, 17 Sep 2017 01:15:47 +0000

With heavy hearts, we share the sad news that Olivia Ellis passed away this week. Olivia, along with Principal Seth Phillips and others, revived PS 8 from a school on the verge of closure due to low enrollment, to one of the most sought-after schools it is today. Hailing from P.S. 321 where she taught second grade, Olivia came to PS 8 in 2003 to serve as Instructional Specialist, armed with all she learned at the highly successful Park Slope school.

Olivia and a dedicated team of staff and parents rolled up their sleeves and got to work, not just on curriculum and teacher development, but painting, scrubbing and cleaning out a disheveled building. There wasn’t much Olivia was unwilling to do to, whether writing for the magnet grant that helped dramatically improve the school or hand-sewing lace curtains for the newly expanded library. After setting the school on its new and rising path, Olivia moved on to central office in 2006, to spread her immense talent to all of the city’s public schools as Director of School Support.

David Goldsmith, PS8 parent during the Olivia years and President of the Community Education Council for District 13 from 2011 to 2017, said:
Olivia had always been unwavering in her dedication to children and their families. In her few years at PS 8 she inspired all in our school community to join together, be bold and dream big on behalf of our children. We were “the little school that could” and with Olivia on the scene… we did! So many will miss Olivia!!
Funeral services will be held on
Friday, September 22, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM.

Joseph G. Duffy Funeral Home
255 9th Street 
Brooklyn, NY 11215

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society.

(Photo: From CEC 13’s facebook page, courtesy of family of Olivia Ellis.)

]]> 0
Packer, St. Ann’s Get High Rankings In NYC Private High Schools Survey Sun, 13 Aug 2017 03:24:45 +0000

In’s 2018 survey of the best private high schools in New York State, Packer Collegiate Institute (photo) is rated tenth in New York City and fourteenth in the state. It is followed immediately by St. Ann’s School, rated eleventh in the city and fifteenth in the state. They come in just ahead of Manhattan’s prestigious Brearley School. The only Brooklyn school ranked higher than the Brooklyn Heights pair is Poly Prep, rated eighth in the city and tenth in the state. Park Slope’s Berkeley Carroll comes in at fifteenth in the city and nineteenth in the state, and Downtown’s Brooklyn Friends is rated 21st in the city and 27th in the state. There are 200 ranked schools in the state, of which 91 are in New York City. The top ranked school in the city and the state is the Horace Mann School in the Bronx.

Niche’s ranking methodology is explained here.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB.

]]> 5
New Principal for PS/MS8, Patricia Peterson to Take the Helm Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:51:50 +0000

Great news for P.S./M.S. 8! District 13 Superintendent Barbara Freeman has named Patricia Peterson Principal of the K-8 school. The announcement was made on Wednesday at a special School Leadership Team (SLT) meeting.  “I am thrilled to accept this position and serve our school and the greater District 13 community. I look forward to building on and strengthening the wonderful work that we started together last year.” said Ms. Peterson in a communication sent to parents, teachers and staff early Wednesday evening.  Of the appointment, Superintendent Barbara Freeman shared,  “I look forward to working with her and the entire school community throughout this transition.”

Ms. Peterson, affectionately known as “Trish” was brought on board as Acting Interim Assistant Principal in the fall of 2016 to fill a staffing void created by the departure of the former Middle School Assistant Principal.  She worked closely with long-time lower school Assistant Principal Bob Mikos to run the lower school until his departure after eleven years in December 2016.  (Mikos is now a Director of Prevention Services in Staten Island’s D31, a field he had worked in prior to his time at P.S./M.S.8).  Peterson was officially installed as AP in December 2016.  Then after a 14-year tenure, Principal Seth Phillips officially announced his intention to retire from the DOE in February 2017.  (It was widely known 2016-17 would be his final year).

In her role as Assistant Principal Ms. Peterson introduced new academic initiatives such as “Algebra for All,” applied for STEM grants, facilitated a partnership with the Beam Center, empowered teachers by strengthening professional development and focused on the social/emotional well-being of the students. These efforts were widely praised by parents, teachers and staff alike.

Despite her “rock star” status within community, parents feared a perceived block to Ms. Peterson’s candidacy by School Chancellor Carmen Farina. They rallied around her with a petition to multiple DOE officials and electeds, a march across Brooklyn Bridge and even publicly pressing Mayor DiBlasio for answers on a call into WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show on July 14th.

We extend a hearty congratulations to Ms. Peterson and can’t wait to see the good things to come for P.S./M.S. 8!

FULL DISCLOSURE: Your correspondent is a P.S.8 parent and a member of the School Leadership Team.

EDIT: The Superintendent’s announcement was made to the School Leadership team (SLT), not the Senior Leadership Team.


]]> 0
Controversy Over Who Will Be New P.S./M.S. 8 Principal Sun, 16 Jul 2017 04:07:39 +0000

The Daily News reports that some P.S.8 parents believe that Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is blocking the appointment of P.S./M.S.8 Assistant Principal Patricia Peterson as principal to replace Seth Phillips, who retired in June. The reason given, according to the Daily News story, is that “Peterson is a former student of Fariña who’s been accused of getting promotions thanks to her history with the chancellor” and that Fariña “is blocking Peterson’s principal appointment because she doesn’t want to appear to be giving Peterson special treatment.” The News quotes an Education Department spokeswoman: “Any suggestion that the chancellor is influencing the hiring of the PS 8 principal is completely false.”

We have been told that the faculties of both P.S. and M.S.8 support the appointment of Ms. Peterson as principal. We will keep you advised of further developments.

]]> 3
D13 CEC Hosts Electeds and Journalists for Forum on School Desgregation Mon, 15 May 2017 05:37:20 +0000

Studies show that for all its diversity, NYC has one of the most segregated public school systems in the country.  Almost two academic years after the re-zoning of P.S. 8 and P.S. 307, the District 13 Community Education Council will hold an important forum on Tuesday evening (May 16th) as part of its scheduled calendar meeting.

Desegregation: Where We Are Now & Envisioning a Path to the Future will feature panelists Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Steve Levin,  New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones and WNYC reporter Yasmeen Khan. The event takes place 6:30 – 8:30 pm at P.S. 307, Daniel Hale Williams, 209 York Street in Brooklyh.


]]> 2
It’s Participatory Budget Time Again-Vote for Worthy Community Projects in D33 Sat, 25 Mar 2017 05:49:26 +0000

It’s Participatory Budgeting (or PB) time again and City Councilmember Steve Levin has “dedicated 1.5 million dollars to capital projects [in District 33] suggested and developed by community volunteers and you can help decide which ones get funded.”  Of the many proposals up for a vote are lockers for thirteen classrooms at M.S. 8 for a cost of $115,000.  The middle school currently has no lockers for the 6th through 8th students’ books and belongings.

Others proposed projects include repair of a Williamsburg toddler playground ($500,000), technology upgrades for two special needs schools ($250,000) in Bed-Stuy and Downtown Brooklyn and and STEAM and STEM labs for two schools in Williamsburg ($218,000 and $250,000 respectively) among others.  The full list can be found HERE.

District 33 residents 14 and over are able to vote online starting midnight on Saturday March 25th. Ballots may also be cast in person at several Brooklyn Heights sites (below) and others across the district found HERE.

P.S. 8 Robert Fulton School
37 Hicks Street
Monday, March 27th and Friday, March 31st
8:00AM – 10:00AM

Brooklyn Heights Library
109 Remsen Street
Tuesday March 28th
1:00PM – 3:00PM
Saturday, April 1st

Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street, Borough Hall Plaza
Monday, March 27th – Friday, March 31st
9:00AM – 5:00PM

Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket
209 Joralemon Street, Borough Hall Plaza
Tuesday, March 28th and Thursday, March 30th
8:00AM – 10:00AM

Want to volunteer to help with the process? Have questions? Contact Benjamin Solotaire at 718 875 5200 or

EDIT: The cost of the MS8 lockers has been corrected from $150,000 to $115,000.

]]> 5
P.S. 8 Kindergarten Waitlist Strikes Again-Now What? Thu, 09 Mar 2017 00:48:04 +0000

Kindergarten placement notifications were emailed on Wednesday and some families are in for a disappointment. Just one year after rezoning, P.S. 8 will have a waitlist for the 2017-2018 academic year. This year 22 children received an alternate placement (vs. 50 children in 2015). The grapevine indicates children were offered seats at P.S. 307.  P.S. 8 received 187 in-zone applications and 165 offer letters were sent for the 125 available seats.  The number of offers is determined by the Office of Kindergarten Admissions.

Anecdotally, the impression has been that the rezoning of P.S.8 and 307 would stave off the problem for at least a few years.  But while waitlists at P.S. 8 could be the new normal, given historic rates of attrition (number of offers vs. numbers of actual registrations) there is a good chance the waitlist could clear for 2017-18.  Parents just have to be patient. NYC School Help consultant, Joyce Szuflita advised in her March 2016 blog post (“A Tale of Two Waitlists”), “People who panic drown. Remain calm.”  OK…easier said than done. So what else can parents do, right now?


The wait list is stressful for families and all the impacted schools, both the overcrowded and those receiving overflow. So, be a good neighbor. PLEASE NOTIFY P.S.8 ASAP if you DON’T plan to send your child to the school whether your child was offered a seat or placed on the waitlist.

If you DO plan to send your child to P.S. 8, pre-register them without delay.  Bring your child with you to the school along with the required documentation Monday through Friday, between 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, until April 7th.  The sooner parents notify P.S.8 of their decisions, the sooner the administration can contact wait-listed families.


  • Read the P.S. 8 Waitlist FAQs.  Many of parents’ initial questions have been addressed by this document.
  • Confirm your child’s position on the waitlist. Contact the Office of Kindergarten Admissions at (718) 935-2009 or via email:
  • Tour the school where your child received alternate placement. P.S. 307 is offering tours on Tuesday, March 14th – 9:00am and Tuesday, March 21st – 9:00am.  Parents are asked to call 718-834-4748 if they are unable to attend on those dates and times.
  • Investigate ALL D13 options.  The Kindergarten Admissions Guide lists schools by district with full contact information.
  • Be patient. The wait list tends to move in mid-April after the close of pre-registration (April 7th) and charter schools hold their lotteries. Expect more activity mid to late June after the Gifted & Talented acceptance deadline (June 16th).  Spaces often open up at the very end of the summer and even through the first weeks of school.
  • Pre-register your child at the school where they received alternate placement by the April 7th deadline. Your child must accompany you.  Please bring the required documentation.  This ensures your child a Kindergarten seat in September.

Joyce Szuflita is adamant about this last point. She emphasizes, “You WILL NOT get some imagined advantage by not registering. Not pre-registering does not force the DOE’s hand in any way. You will be placed on a regular wait list (like everyone else) for any school that you have ranked higher than the school that you were placed in (except your zoned school – where you are on the special Capped Zoned School wait list).” The capped wait list is explained in full in the P.S. 8 FAQs.


  • Research and apply for charter schools by April 1st. Most charters conduct their admissions lotteries in April.
  •  If your child tested and qualified for either district or city-wide programs, submit a Gifted & Talented application by April 24th.
  • Check with private Pre-K’s such as Plymouth Church and Kiddie Korner, among others.  Many offer private Kindergarten programs.
  • Try the old stand-by private schools such as Packer Collegiate, St. Ann’s, Brooklyn Friends, etc. They belong to the Independent Admissions Association of Greater NY (ISAAGNY).  Acceptance letters were sent in early February and the reply deadline was February 17th.  But, it may be still possible to apply and placed on a wait list.  AltSchool and Basis Independent Brooklyn are not part of ISAAGNY but have similar admissions timelines. Parochial schools are another avenue to explore as well.  It has been suggested too that parents investigate tuition insurance if they apply to private schools late in the game.


DISCLOSURE: This correspondent was an active participant in advocating for wait-listed families in 2015-16.  She is a P.S. 8 parent, school volunteer and frequent attendee of various D13 meetings.  Views expressed in this post are gleaned from this experience and are solely those of the author.

EDIT: This post has been updated by removing Grace Church from the list of schools offering private Kindergarten as their program will be discontinued after this academic year.  A link for P.S. 307 has been added along with information about school tours.

]]> 32
BHA Annual Meeting: P.S.8’s Phillips and Others Honored; Expert Panel Dubious about BQX Wed, 01 Mar 2017 06:03:32 +0000

Court hearing on Pier 6 towers has been rescheduled–see below. At Monday evening’s annual meeting of the Brooklyn Heights Association, BHA President Patrick Killackey (photo) began by asking, rhetorically, what a neighborhood association can do in a time of political turmoil. He answered by arguing that the nature of the times requires more action at the local level. We might not, he said, be able to bring about the disarmament of North Korea, but we can do, and have done, things that can improve our lives and perhaps inspire others to do more, both in our community and in others. As examples, among others, he cited the Promenade Gardeners and those who fought to reduce helicopter noise in the Heights and nearby.

Mr. Killackey noted some new developments. The BHA House Tour, which ended in 2015, will be replaced with a new Designer Showhouse event to take place in September of this year. More details are forthcoming. On Monday, March 6, there will be a hearing in court on the BHA’s lawsuit to prevent construction of two high rise residential buildings near the Atlantic Avenue entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Update: The new hearing date before NYS Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings will be Friday, March 17th at 11:00 AM at 71 Thomas Street, Room 203, in Manhattan.

Mr. Killackey noted with regret the departure of DCI Centa as commander of the 84th Precinct, but expressed confidence in his replacement, Capt. Roberto Melendez. Mr. Killackey reviewed the progress that had been made under DCI Centa, including the installation of cameras on Joralemon Street and the appointment of two community affairs officers to Brooklyn Heights.


Awards for community service were presented by Heights resident and Channel 13 personality Tom Stewart (photo above), who got a good laugh for announcing that the first award went to La La Land. The real first award for community service went to Irene Janner, who served on the P.S.8 PTA during the years of the school’s transition from struggling to desirable, was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Brooklyn Bridge Park, and was treasurer and office manager for the BHA. The second was to Love Our Pool, a group of parents who fought to keep the Pop-Up Pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park open for at least another summer, while the Park finds another way to provide a swimming venue. The third was to community activists Judi Francis and Ren Richmond, and to the law firm Jenner & Block, which has donated its services pro bono, for their fight to keep high rise towers from being built near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park.


The BHA’s top award, the Martha Atwater Award, went to Seth Phillips (photo above), who became principal of P.S.8 when it was still a struggling, underperforming school to which local parents tried to avoid sending their children, to one so successful that it now has an overcrowding problem. He was also instrumental in expanding the school, and in establishing a new middle school, I.S.8, to relieve the shortage of nearby, attractive middle school options for local students.

The meeting concluded with a panel discussion, moderated by New York Times writer Jim Dwyer, and featuring experts on transit matters. The topic was the proposed “Brooklyn-Queens Connector,” a streetcar line that would connect Sunset Park in Brooklyn with Astoria, Queens. The panel members were. in general, skeptical of the project. The notion that the project could be financed by property tax increases on adjacent properties was questioned because the properties along the line were either fully developed or too small to produce the needed revenue. Engineering problems related to the route being mostly within a flood plain, and lacking a dedicated right of way, which would mean traffic delays. Concerns were also expressed about the ability of the proposed route to connect with other means of transit, such as subways and buses. Finally, it was argued that money would better be spent on improvements to transit on underserved areas like East New York and others on the City’s edge. One panelist said that underserved areas near the proposed BQX route, such as the Red Hook Houses and other NYCHA housing near the Queens waterfront, could be served more economically by providing better bus service connecting to subways.

The audience seemed mostly hostile to the BQX proposal, as each criticism of it from the panel attracted a vigorous round of applause.

All photos by Andrew Porter.

]]> 4
New Dock Street School Opens Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:31:10 +0000

Your correspondent got notice Monday that at 1:00 p.m. yesterday there would be a ribbon cutting by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for the new Dock Street School, a public middle school (grades 6 through 8), drawing “a diverse student body from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Vinegar Hill and North Park Slope”, and including a Pre-K facility with space for 75 students. The school’s entrance is on Dock Street between Water and Front streets in DUMBO. Figuring it would work in nicely with my daily constitutional, I set out at 12:30, heading down the Promenade, then Squibb Hill, then Water Street to Dock.

I didn’t know what to expect, but imagined a short ceremony at the school’s entrance, so I showed up in my walking attire, t-shirt and cargo shorts (I need those extra pockets for my phone and camera). I arrived a few minutes before one, and no one was gathered outside, so I went in. There was a guard at a desk who cheerfully directed me upstairs. At the landing at the top of the staircase I was facing the school’s office, the rear wall of which displayed the sign in the photo above. I was greeted by a school administrator and told her I knew “STEM” meant “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics” but didn’t know what “STEAM” meant. She said the “A” was for “Arts.” This is DUMBO; figures. Perhaps we have a mini Cooper Union here, though with no threat they’ll start charging tuition.

IMG_6332We were led from the landing outside the school office to the gymnasium, where we milled around waiting for various dignitaries to arrive. I regretted my tee and shorts, as everyone seemed well dressed, and the air conditioning was doing yeoman duty. Three students about to enter sixth grade at Dock Street were seated at the speakers’ table; they were interviewed by Mary Frost of the Eagle (photo above). Update: Here’s Mary’s story.


Among the speakers was City Council Member Steve Levin (photo above), who praised the various people and entities involved in making Dock Street School a reality, including the School Board and Chancellor Fariña, District 13 and Superintendent Barbara Freeman, the School Construction Authority and President and CEO Lorraine Grillo, and building developer and owner Two Trees Management and CEO Jed Walentas. To the left in the photo above is Dock Street’s Principal, Dr. Melissa Vaughan.

Mr. Walentas also spoke. As you may recall, there was considerable controversy over Two Trees’ proposal to build a high rise residential structure at the Dock Street site. He candidly acknowledged the crucial piece of advice he’d received from former City Council Member Ken Fisher: “Put a school in it.” Mr. Walentas said Dock Street School is “a model that shows how the City can leverage real estate values to create public benefits like building new schools, creating space for cultural institutions or updating infrastructure.” He said he hoped other developers would consider making space for schools in their buildings.


Dr. Vaughan called the three students to the podium. She said she hoped their experience at Dock Street would enable them to become “creators.” Each of them then said what they were anticipating as Dock Street students. One of the girls said she loves math, and looks forward to “making good grades.”

]]> 3
Help MS8 Win iPads From DuoLingo Sun, 14 Aug 2016 05:57:09 +0000

¡Por favor y gracias! The popular (and free) language instruction program, DuoLingo is giving away free iPads and MS8 needs your vote.  MS8’s Spanish teacher is leading the charge and explains on the contest profile page how the technology would benefit her students.

“Having the technology…I would be able to create lessons that blend traditional instruction, dialogues and conversation with the multi-faceted website lessons…I would be able to differentiate learning in my class in meaningful ways, as the iPads would allow me to teach or review targeted skills to different groups of students while others benefit from independent work with Duolingo.”

Cast your vote HERE.  Then share, share, share with family and friends.  The deadline for submissions is Sunday, August 21st, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST.  One vote per person. The school with the most votes, wins.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday, August 24th.

Per the company website, “Duolingo is the free science-based language education platform that has organically become the most popular way to learn languages online.”  The company was founded by Carnegie Mellon University professor and inventor of CAPTCHAs, Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker who received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 2014.

]]> 1
D13 Education Round Up: Farina Town Hall, Rezoning Implementation, Walentas Family Foundation Grants Tue, 03 May 2016 03:49:16 +0000

There are two unique opportunities to engage directly with the DOE this week on issues specific to District 13.


The District 13 CEC hosts a Town Hall meeting with Chancellor Carmen Farina.  The gathering provides a unique, albeit brief opportunity to ask the Chancellor about the issues that matter most to you and your family.  The CEC is also soliciting input from parents ahead of the meeting as to what questions they should ask the Chancellor.  Submit comments, questions or feedback anonymously via their website,

6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
PS 256
144 Kosciuszko Street
Brooklyn, NY

Immediately following the Town Hall, the CEC will hold it’s May Working Session at the same location.  Click HERE for the meeting agenda.

7:45 – 9:00 pm (ish)
PS 256
144 Kosciuszko Street
Brooklyn, NY


As the end of the school year draws near, the District 13 Schools Community Working Group casts an eye toward the implementation of the rezoning of P.S. 8 and P.S. 307.   Join representatives of the DOE’s Office of District Planning and delegates from both schools as they discuss the rezoning rollout and the priorities for their respective schools in the coming 2016-17 academic school year.

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
District 13 Office
335 Park Place
Brooklyn, NY 11238


Have an idea for a great program at your school but no funds allocated in the budget?  The Brooklyn Heights-DUMBO Patch reports the Walentas Family Foundation is sponsoring grants of up to $25,000 for District 13 and 14 schools through their Neighborhood School Grants Program.

“The Walentas Family Foundation believes that individual schools themselves know best how to assess their needs and how to address them given their unique capabilities and resources. Through the Neighborhood School Grants program, we seek to support those projects that do the most to enrich students’ learning experiences and help a school to achieve its central mission.”

Each school may apply for one grant, applications must be submitted by a school Administrator by May 31st.  Click for the application.

]]> 0
Is the School Rezoning A Success? Early Signs Say Yes Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:57:29 +0000

Families were sent their Kindergarten admissions offers letters on Tuesday.  As reported by Politico, the re-zoning of P.S. 8 an P.S 307 shows early signs of success.  Unlike last year, there is no wait list for P.S. 8 and 148 students were offered a seat at the school.  Historically there is about 20% attrition among those offered seats.  If that is the case this year, there are likely to be five Kindergarten sections.  P.S. 8 Principal Seth Phillips referred to the tension caused by last year’s waitlist but added the school would likely regain it’s music room and possibly the drama room as a result of the re-zoning.  “I think this is going to work out well for everyone in the long run.”

At P.S. 307 56 in-zone students were offered seats opposed to last year’s number of just 18.  (Part of the DOE’s reasoning for the re-zoning was to create a sustainable number of in-zone students for P.S. 307).  “There are now new opportunities all around. With more students you get more funding,” Principal Stephanie Carroll said. “We’ve got tons of partnerships, and any student coming into kindergarten here will have that added advantage.”

DNAifno reports that Kindergarten waitlists have shrunk 9% over last year. The article has the complete list of all the NYC schools with waitlists this year.  DOE officials reported that 49,000 students, or 71 percent, received an offer from their first choice school, down 1 percentage point from the year before.

To accept their Kindergarten offers families must contact the school directly to make an appointment to pre-register by April 8. Pre-registering their child(ren) does not prevent them from receiving an offer at a school where they are wait-listed.

The P.S. 8 website advises:

“If you received an offer letter for PS 8, you may visit the lower school main office to pre-register Monday through Friday from 9am-12pm by April 8th, 2016. Ask for Ms. Cloud or Ms. Carrier.

The DOE requires the child’s presence at registration. Bring documentation of the student’s age and proof of residence. Click here for a list of required documentation.”

Click HERE for additional registration information for P.S. 307.

EDIT: This post has been updated with registration information for both P.S.8 and P.S. 307.

]]> 2
Slain Texas Police Officer Was St. Ann’s School Graduate Thu, 03 Mar 2016 03:59:53 +0000

Officer David Hofer, 29, of the Euless, Texas police force, who died in an ambush on Tuesday, “grew up in Brooklyn” and served on the NYPD before moving to Texas, according to the Daily News, which also notes that he “graduated from St. Anne’s [sic] High School in Brooklyn” and then from NYU. Reader “Willowtown Cop” first alerted us to the St. Ann’s connection.

We at BHB extend our deepest sympathy to Officer Hofer’s family, his fiancee (he was recently engaged), his friends, and his fellow officers, both his former NYPD colleagues and those on the Euless force.

Photo: NYPDhigway via Twitter.

]]> 0
P.S. 8 First Annual Camp Expo This Saturday Wed, 02 Mar 2016 01:34:15 +0000

Choices, choices, choices.  Contemplating where to send your kiddos to camp this summer?  Do some one-stop shopping at the first annual P.S. 8 Camp Expo this Saturday March 5th, 2:00 – 5:00 pm located at 37 Hicks Street in the gymnasium.

Browse nearly 30 local and sleep away camps as they present the fun they have in store for this upcoming summer.  Vendors will have representatives on-site to answer questions, activities for the kids, tasty goodies and giveaways too!

Check out the P.S. 8 website for more details on the participating organizations.

NOTE: The DOE does not endorse or sponsor any of the participating camps nor does the DOE conduct background checks.


]]> 0
CEC13 Issues Post Re-Zoning Statement, Kindergarten Admission Update Wed, 13 Jan 2016 06:11:15 +0000

As a follow up to the January 5th 6 to 3 “yes” vote to re-zone P.S. 8 and P.S. 307, the CEC13 has issued a statement thanking “parents, community members, local organizations and elected representatives” along with school administrations and staff for their dedication and engagement over the many months of meetings, dialogue and debate.

The CEC acknowledged, “that parents and community members have a range of viewpoints on the rezoning plan, with some supportive of and others disappointed by the outcome of the vote. CEC13 remains committed to its support of all the affected communities, with particular attention to the P.S. 307 community as it navigates its transition to a larger zone while continuing as a magnet school.”

The statement also recognized the flawed district planning process and announced Superintendent Barbara Freeman’s formation of a working group.  The group’s “focus is to support the diverse communities in the newly-formed P.S. 307 zone in working together, and to take concrete steps to assist P.S. 307 in its efforts to maintain and expand its school programs.”


The re-zoning shifts all of DUMBO and returns three buildings of Farragut Houses to the P.S. 307 zone.   The CEC shared the following information for families effected by the changes:

  • The Office of Student Enrollment should already have sent an email to all families whose address was impacted by the rezone, and who had submitted kindergarten applications before the change.
  • The system has been updated so families applying now are seeing their new zoned school show up on [the DOE’s] SchoolSearch and in the [Kindergarten] online application.
  • Families should contact with further questions.
  • The rezoning plan accounts for the “grandfathering in” of younger siblings of students currently enrolled at P.S. 8. Please see Point #7 in the final proposal for details”

It must be added that DOE has extended the Kindergarten Admissions deadline. Families now have until January 20th to submit their applications. A Lower School open house will be held at P.S. 8 on Wednesday, January 13th from 9:00 – 10:30 am.  An additional tour is scheduled for March 2nd, 9:00 – 10:30 am.  Per the school’s website, tours scheduled at P.S. 307 concluded on January 1th.  Based on this corespondent past experience, it is worthwhile to call the schools if you have missed- open houses.


The following message was sent to the CEC13 via email on January 6th:

CEC Members,

 It is not often that ordinary citizens have an opportunity to take a courageous stand and change the course of many children’s lives. I know that last night’s decision involved a lot of soul searching and careful deliberation on all of your parts. I congratulate you on looking toward the future and for understanding that together we can forge a better school system for all of our students. You have set a high bar for other CECs to meet, and I encourage you to think of next steps in creating a district-wide plan to fit the needs of your growing community.



]]> 0
Over-Development Dominates Squadron Town Hall Discussion Fri, 04 Dec 2015 16:00:44 +0000

As a follow up to his Seventh Annual Community Convention held this past April, State Senator Daniel Squadron held a Town Hall at Brooklyn Law school on Wednesday night.  The full Convention Report was made available to all attendees.  In his opening remarks, Senator Squadron emphasized his belief in “participatory government” adding, “State Government has the potential to have positive impact in people’s lives.”

The Senator did a bit of “house-keeping” and spoke briefly about his latest endeavors including the newly LLC Loophole report, released earlier in the day along with Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon who was also in attendance.  The Senator acknowledged District Leader Paige Bellenbaum for her work in organizing the District 15 School Overcrowding Forum.  Also of note was an MTA Bus Town Hall was held in Manhattan last week.

The Senator fielded questions from constituents via index cards. Over-development, preservation of open space and school overcrowding dominated the conversation.  Greenpoint & Williamsburg advocates asked about Bushwick Inlet Park.  Others raised concerns about the Brooklyn Heights Library and encroaching development in Downtown Brooklyn.

Squadron responded thoughtfully saying in part, “Open space is a critical part of our life here in New York City…every where in the life cycle it is critical.  And, not as an after thought or a luxury to who we are as a city.  And it’s too often thought of in that way and in fact it’s dangled out as an enticement when you have development or added density or something else that community isn’t comfortable with and too often that enticement isn’t really truly public open space.”

On school over-crowding a parent pointed out the proposed re-zoning of P.S. 8 does not alleviate over-crowding at the school asking ” “If you’re going to build an apartment, how do you makes sure there’s a school seat that matches that?” Squadron described the DOE’s response to his outreach as “too little, too late.”

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s comprehensive re-cap offers more details on this and all the topics discussed.  But no community meeting would be complete without long-time Brooklyn Heights resident Jeff Smith’s unique perspective.   He suggested the epidemic of gun violence is the fault of the Pharmaceutical industry’s over-prescription of psychiatric drugs adding,”gun control is over” due to the invention of 3-D printing.

Senator Squadron represents neighborhoods in Downtown Brooklyn from Greenpoint to the Columbia Waterfront and in Lower Manhattan from Tribeca to the Lower East Side. We applaud and appreciate his continued efforts to advocate on behalf of the residents of Brooklyn Heights and all his constituents throughout the 26th District.

]]> 8
DOE Unveils Final Re-Zoning Plan: Zone Lines Unchanged, Admission Set-Asides Proposed for P.S. 307 Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:55:56 +0000

The DOE’s Office of District Planning presented their final re-zoning proposal to the District 13 CEC at a meeting on Monday night.  The ODP’s powerpoint deck outlined the general themes and recurring questions that were raised during a series of community meetings which began in late September.

While the zone lines remain unchanged, new to the plan is a 50 percent admissions set-aside at P.S. 307 for children who qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Per the presentation, “The DOE is committed to implementing an admissions priority where students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch would have priority for 50% of the available seats at P.S. 307. Zoned students will continue to receive priority over non-zoned students who qualify for FRL.  This priority would be implemented in 2017-18 school year at the earliest to ensure compliance with terms of magnet grant.”

The Magnet Grant is a Federal program and admissions guidelines enable students from throughout the District to attend P.S. 307.  Per the DOE’s presentation, “The DOE anticipates requesting a 4th year extension for the Magnet Grant, which means federal magnet funding will continue for almost two more years, ending on 9/30/2017.”

Of major concern to the P.S. 307 community is whether the school would eventually “flip” to serve mostly affluent families from Dumbo should the re-zoning pass, thus losing their Title 1 funding in the process.  P.S. 307 PTA Co-President Faraji Hannah-Jones expressed disappointment, “When we said 50 percent, we didn’t say 50 percent with conditions.  We said 50 percent, period…We want the opportunity to sustain our equity for that neighborhood.”  Adding, “We don’t want P.S. 307 to become P.S. 8.”

Hannah-Jones also referenced a joint action plan that had been previously presented to the DOE during community engagement meetings.  “We also have over 400 letters signed from the Farragut houses, from the Church of the Open Door, from people from the school [all] supporting our plan.  I urge you to listen.”   Hannah-Jones  added later in the evening the action plan includes a request for the DOE to fund the P.S. 307’s STEM lab for for an additional five years.

This announcement of the admissions priority for P.S. 307 comes just days after the DOE announced it would approve an admissions pilot program aimed at creating more diversity at seven public elementary schools including District 13’s P.S. 146, The Brooklyn New School and Arts & Letters in Fort Greene.  The proposals had been under consideration since 2014.

Other elements of the re-zoning proposal explained that P.S. 287 was not included because of the DOE’s desire to reserve capacity at that school to accommodate projected residential development in Downtown Brooklyn.  The proposal also includes the grandfathering of siblings.  Meaning, siblings of children who currently attend P.S. 8 would be able to attend the school even if their residence has been re-zoned to P.S. 307.  The DOE expects the full impact of the re-zoning to take about six years if sibling grandfathering is approved by the CEC.

Ansley Samson, spoke briefly on behalf of the P.S. 8 PTA, “As you know we support this re-zoning on the table because it is the only thing that begins to start the process of managing our severe and fast-growing overcrowding…As a PTA, we look forward engaging in this process and engaging with our sister schools in this district.”  The DOE has scheduled a small-group meeting with members of the P.S. 8 and Dumbo community for December 2nd.  This meeting is part of the extended period of community engagement that resulted from the delay in the re-zoning voting schedule.

The 45-day clock has officially started ticking and the CEC has until January 5th to vote.  The CEC will likely decide the date of the vote during their next meeting.  The next CEC meeting will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 pm on December 8th at P.S. 56 Lewis H Latimer, 170 Gates Avenue.   Members of the community are encouraged to continue to submit their comments to the CEC/DOE via the CEC’s webform. Additional information may also be found on the Brooklyn page of the Office of District Planning’s webiste.



]]> 4
Education Update: DOE to Unveil Final Re-Zoning Proposal on Nov 23rd, PEP to Vote on Middle School Relocation Thu, 12 Nov 2015 05:02:11 +0000


CEC President, David Goldsmith has confirmed the DOE’s Office of District Planning will present the official re-zoning proposal on November 23rd.  The meeting is scheduled to take place 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women (283 Adams Street).  Comments may still be submitted via the CEC’s webform. No word if any changes will be incorporated into the proposal based on feedback gathered during the extended period of community engagement.  The “drop dead” deadline for the CEC to vote on the re-zoning is January 5, 2016.


As previously reported, the Kindergarten Admissions period will open on December 7th and close on January 15, 2016, one month earlier than last year.  Given this timeline, parents will know the outcome of the re-zoning in time to finalize their applications and prioritize their school choices.    Downtown Brooklyn School solutions has created an excellent primer on the available education options.


Simultaneous to the re-zoning, the DOE has proposed the re-siting of M.S. 313-the Middle School currently co-located at P.S. 307- to the new Dock Street School (K611) in Dumbo.   The proposal has drawn criticism from some members of the CEC.  The CEC website invites parents to “please join Superintendent Barbara Freeman and the MS 313 Working Group [at a series of meetings] to discuss ideas for the redesign of MS 313, and what District 13 parents want for our middle schools.”

  • Thursday, November 12, 2015: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm P.S. 133 William A Butler, 610 Baltic St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • Monday, November 16, 2015: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm P.S. 307 Daniel Hale Williams, 209 York St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Monday, November 30, 2015: 6:30 pm – 8 :30 pm, P.S. 11, Purvis J Behan Elementary School, 419 Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn NY, 11238

The Panel for Education Policy (PEP) is scheduled to vote on the middle school relocation proposal on November 19th, 6:00 pm at M.S. 131, 100 Hester Street, NYC, 10002.  Per the meeting agenda, parents may sign up to make public comments on November 19th.  While the CEC has no power to vote on the re-siting proposal, they encourage parents who are unable to attend these scheduled middle school forums to submit their ideas and feedback regarding D13 Middle Schools via their website.  Written public comments will be accepted through November 18th.

]]> 0
Re-Zoning Update: Middle School Plan Front and Center at CEC Meeting Thu, 22 Oct 2015 18:21:00 +0000

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.


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.


  • 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.
]]> 0
Re-Zoning Update: CEC Meeting Tonight at P.S. 8 Tue, 20 Oct 2015 12:41:04 +0000

As previously reported, the re-zoning vote has been pushed back for two months so the CEC and DOE can hear more feedback from the P.S. 8 and P.S. 307 communities.

Tonight’s CEC meeting is an opportunity to weigh-in on the re-zoning and also participate in the conversation about the DOE’s plan to re-locate M.S. 313 to the new Dock Street school.  For some background, check out this blog by CEC Member Rob Underwood, where he shares his personal opinion on why middle schools matter to District 13 right now.


]]> 0