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P.S. 217 parents fear “Dreams”

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If Brooklyn Dreams Charter School opens in Flatbush, P.S. 217 will suffer, parents say.

Brooklyn Dreams, which was approved by the State University of New York (SUNY) Charter School Institute and is currently awaiting the state Board of Regents’ final approval, has been eyeing the St. Rose of Lima School building at 269 Parkville Avenue.

Parents of students at P.S. 217, 1100 Newkirk Avenue, fear Brooklyn Dreams will attract P.S. 217’s students. This would pose a problem for P.S. 217, as funding is allocated based on the number of students enrolled.

“There’s 1,300 kids at 217 right now. The money funds a lot of wonderful academic and enrichment programs — music, art and theater,” said Patrick Thornton, who has a fifth-grader at P.S. 217. “When you lose funding, the first things that go are all those additional programs.”

Fewer students and less funding could also mean fewer teachers.

“The principal of the school has done a great job of attracting new and talented teachers. They would be the first ones to go,” Thornton said. “It would be a loss if the population of the school goes down.”

William Girasole, co-lead applicant for Brooklyn Dreams and the owner of Girasole Real Estate in Dyker Heights, did not return calls for comment for this story. However, he has insisted that Brooklyn Dreams does not want to harm any existing schools.

State Assemblyman James Brennan’s office is preparing to send a letter to the Board of Regents expressing P.S. 217’s concerns.

Regardless of where Brooklyn Dreams opens — it has already failed to secure space in southwest Brooklyn — any nearby schools could suffer, said Christopher Spinelli, president of School District 22’s Community Education Council (CEC), which represents Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and parts of Midwood, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.

“It poses the same problem for any public school that it opens across from,” Spinelli said. “If 100 or 200 children from whatever public school go to the charter, that’s that much less money that the school will be given to operate. It is ultimately going to drain resources from the school.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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