The Department of Education’s Office of Portfolio Management has put together a FAQ sheet on the Park Slope elementary school rezoning proposal. The questions are good ones; the answers are not always compelling.
On the need to decrease crowding at PS 321 and 107, the DOE is clear. Without any change, enrollment at 321 will top 1,800 in five years, or 165-170% of capacity. Enrollment at 107 is estimated to reach 600-660, or 170-190% of building utilization. Certainly this is untenable.
But Park Slope parents’ biggest objections, that address fraud and relocation schemes are responsible for most overcrowding, has not been adequately answered by the DOE. The FAQ sheet merely notes that schools require two current proofs of residence, and offers a short explanation of the department’s “right to remain” policy for families that move. Obviously, if there is address fraud going on, the current requirements are not addressing the problem. And parents’ unhappiness with the right to remain policy is a valid one. Right to remain is designed to protect kids from having to switch schools, but if parents are gaming the system by moving in zone for a year to qualify their kids and then moving out, the policy should not apply.
This is not to say there aren’t problems with these common objections. For instance, it isn’t clear how to distinguish scheming families from those who legitimately should be allowed to remain after a move. And the more stringent the proof of residence requirements are, the less pleasant enforcement will be. Bed checks? Invasive. And do parents really want to create an atmosphere where they are informing on each other? Also unclear, how prevalent are these problems?
Council Member Brad Lander just announced a last-minute meeting for tonight, Monday, November 26 at 6:30pm at PS 10, 511 7th Avenue between Prospect Ave and 17th St. The last scheduled meeting is Wednesday, November 28 at 7pm at PS 295, 330 18th Street near 6th Avenue. Those are going to be interesting meetings.
Those who want to offer feedback can do so by emailing CEC15@schools.nyc.gov, ASkop@schools.nyc.gov, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For what it’s worth, there are some who are sending emails to all three addresses. In all likelihood this is redundant as each entity compiles emails and distributes them to the CEC members. But it can’t hurt, right?