Just as the city can’t help its addiction to shuttering schools all across the five boroughs and turning them into charter schools, it also can’t stop imposing its will on Marine Park Junior High School (I.S. 278).
On the heels of a successful battle last month to prevent the Department of Education from putting a separate high school in the building’s extra space, the community is again rallying against the agency’s proposal to open an elementary school in the same spot. And before the high school proposal, the city attempted to shove a charter school in that location, too.
Meanwhile, those at the school continue to push their plan to use the extra seats for an affiliated NEST program for autistic middle-school-aged children. It would be the only program serving those needs on this end of Brooklyn.
Yet the city once again fails to recognize the voice of the community, and continues to push a contrary agenda on another Southern Brooklyn community.
Below is letter sent by Councilman Lew Fidler and Assemblyman Alan Maisel to new Schools Chancellor Cathie Black.
Dear Chancellor Black:
We are writing to express our outrage at the latest developments in the ongoing discussion concerning the proposed use for the underutilized space at IS 278/Marine Park. We learned today that DOE is now proposing that anon-zoned
zoned K-5 school be co-located within the building at 1925 Stuart Street.
While we understand that the long history of proposed usage for this site predates your recent tenure as Chancellor, we believe that it is imperative that you be briefed on the needs and wishes of the community.
At the December 2, 2010 meeting of CDEC 22, one of the agenda items was the proposed opening of an independent high school within the building. The response from the community and elected officials was a resounding rejection of this proposal. Many speakers, including the two of us, spoke adamantly in opposition. Additionally, there was full disclosure that the school’s administration had already begun the process of establishing an intermediate level NEST program, which would be fed by local elementary schools. As students from this area must currently travel either to downtown Brooklyn or Queens to attend a NEST program, the need for a southern Brooklyn location clearly meshed with the available space within IS 278. This program would fill a distinct void that exists within services for students who have special needs. At that time, no objections were voiced by DOE officials who were in attendance.
To briefly recap a small portion of the extensive history concerning this school, there was an attempt to place an elementary level charter school there in 2009. The community and all elected officials vehemently opposed this. Ultimately the Charter School did not open at I.S. 278. At that time, we were promised that the request for internal expansion that had been denied for several consecutive years would be back on the table. This, in fact, did not happen, so the school came up with their “Plan B”, the NEST program.
We still stand by the many concerns that were stated in 2009 as to why placement of an elementary would be inadvisable, and implore you to allow the NEST program to proceed, as planned.
UPDATE (1/25/11 @ 12:45 p.m.): Fidler and Maisel have amended their statement to reflect that the proposed K-5 school would be zoned, not non-zoned as they previously stated.