In a move sure to cause an uproar, the New York City Department of Education is considering redrawing the zone for Carroll Gardens’ P.S. 58 elementary school, located on Smith Street between Carroll St. and First Place, a city spokesman told South Brooklyn Post on Friday.
The re-zoning consideration by DOE comes at the request of the local education board in District 15, which covers Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Gowanus and Boerum Hill.
“[Community Education Council] 15 leadership has expressed interest in the possibility of rezoning P.S. 58, and we have agreed to assess whether there is any need,” Devon Puglia, spokesman for the New York City Department of Education, told South Brooklyn Post.
Once the neighborhood underdog, P.S. 58 has seen its population more than double in five years, from 500 children to more than 900 this year, as parents flock to Carroll Gardens not only for its beauty and safety, but for the increasing quality of education at PS 58, as well as for its French-immersion dual language program.
Puglia said there is not yet a specific proposal for a new zone, nor a timeline or public meeting yet scheduled on changes to the zone. But sources close to the matter say that a rezoning proposal could be put forth this Spring.
Jim Devor, president of the local District 15 Community Education Council, requested this autumn that the city look at a change in the zone, both to address issues of crowding and diversity at the local schools.
“PS 58 is over capacity and could likely see an acceleration of that,” in coming years, Devor said.
“There is clearly a need,” said Devor, whose daughter, now in high school, attended PS 58 when Devor said it was more diverse and less crowded. “Whether there is the will is another question.”
The new zone
The proposal to rezone The Carroll School, though not yet in writing, could see P.S. 58’s zone cut off at Smith Street, Devor said.
The kids who live on the Hoyt side of Smith Street would attend P.S. 32, a smaller elementary school on Hoyt, between President and Union, that is “under-capacity,” at less than 70 percent full, according to the DOE, Devor said. (The school does need extra space for its successful program working with kids on the autistic spectrum. It was a pioneer in the program, called ASD/NEST.)
Under the longtime NYC DOE practice, kids who already attend PS 58 would remain there, if their parents so wished.
The PS 58 zoning change proposal could come up for discussion this Spring, Devor said.
Devor’s goal in seeking a change to the zone is two-fold, he said: To alleviate crowding at PS 58, and to send a more diverse cross-section of Carroll Gardens kids to PS 32, which has become an “A” grade school with a great music program, a wonderful library and a gifted and talented program, among other attributes.
Traditionally, low-income minorities and children from the Gowanus Houses attended PS 32, while Italian-American kids and children from the increasingly exclusive, prime area of Carroll Gardens attended PS 58. Real estate developers were successful in maneuvering and squiggling PS 32’s zone to racially segregate the neighborhood, Devor said.
That in itself is a situation that needs rectifying, Devor says. And, the educational landscape has changed.
“PS 32 has become a very good school,” Devor said. “PS 32 is ready.
“It’s a win-win,” Devor said.
Any change to the zone is likely to cause an uproar. PS 58 has become extremely popular in recent years, seeing parents from Manhattan and around the globe moving to Carroll Gardens to attend the school and, especially, attempting to get into the French-immersion program there.
With several beloved public schools and gorgeous brownstones aplenty in the greater Carroll Gardens area, prices have skyrocketed and homeowners with kids look specifically at zones when buying.
And yet, the city has had to rezone in Manhattan and in Park Slope, due to over-crowding, despite please from parents who paid sticker prices based on school zones.
Devor said he’d also like to see the rules changed for getting into the popular Brooklyn New School, located on Henry Street in Carroll Gardens. Currently, the school accepts students throughout Brooklyn regardless of district and has a very competitive admissions process. Devor said it should be a District 15-wide lottery, with special preference for low-income and English-language learners, to ensure some diversity, as is the case with PS 133 (there was an affirmative action battle over the admission policies of PS 133).
Public School 133, an elementary school, will move into its new school building on Third Avenue at Douglass Street in Fall 2013. It does not have a zone, and will accept kids from all over Brooklyn. It has a dual-language Spanish program as well as a dual-language French program, and is expected to be a great option for a growing number of local parents looking for public school seats in ever-more crowded zones, and Devor said he considers it’s admission policy a personal accomplishment.
Devor is leaving his post atop the local Community Education Council this year, and hopes that a change to PS 32 and PS 58’s boundaries becomes his parting act.
“I’m pushing this hard,” said Devor, a local leader in the educational realm for 10 years.
Any change to the PS 58 zone would be subject to a public meeting and a vote from the Community Education Council. There should be plenty of time for public input when a proposal is put forth. Stay tuned.
And remember, you heard it first on the South Brooklyn Post.
For more on the local educational scene:
Wait List for PS 58 Kindergarten, 2nd Year in a Row: http://southbrooklynpost.com/2012/04/wait-list-for-local-kindergarten-again/
Wait List for PS 32 Kindergarten: http://southbrooklynpost.com/2012/04/ps-32-has-kinder-wait-list/
PS 32: The Little Library That Could: http://southbrooklynpost.com/2011/03/the-little-library-that-could/
City Launches Success Academy, Controversial Charter School, in Court Street Middle/High School: http://southbrooklynpost.com/2011/12/success-academy-charter-cobble-hll/
PS 58 Stats: http://www.schoolbook.org/school/752-ps-058-the-carroll/data#about-the-school