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With Bloomberg out of the picture and DeBlasio likely to win, it could be the last PS 196 hears of the word “co-location”

Hail Mary hall pass: City scratches Williamsburg school cram plan at 11th hour

The Brooklyn Paper
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A plan to cram a third school into a Williamsburg building that is already home to two is off the table, possibly for good, after the city bowed to intense community pressure in the final hours before the last meeting on such measures of Mayor Bloomberg’s administration.

The Department of Education nixed the cram proposal in an e-mail to the administration of elementary school PS 196 on Bushwick Avenue, which already shares a schoolhouse with the middle school MS 582, a few hours before it was to be voted on at a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy. The panel is dominated by appointees of the mayor who is a major proponent of so-called “co-locations.”

“Based on feedback from the broader District 14 community and in the interest of pursuing other ways to increase access to quality middle school options, the Department of Education has determined that it will not move forward with the new school proposal,” the e-mail said.

The last-minute reversal followed a month of opposition from parents, teachers, elected officials, and neighborhood school representatives, including a 300-person protest at the only public hearing on the third school proposal. Opponents of the idea said it would crowd out valuable elective classes and extracurricular activities and hailed the latest decision as proof of strength in numbers.

“It’s nice to know that, from time to time, you can fight City Hall and win,” said District 14 Community Education Council President Tesa Wilson, who called the education department racist and said it would not have proposed such a plan in a majority-white shool.

City officials said the outcry made them take the triple-decker idea out of the running, for now.

“As with all proposals, we sought out and listened to feedback from the community,” said education department spokesman Harry Hartfield. “As a result, we decided not to co-locate a new district middle school in the building at this time and withdrew our proposal.”

But the plan may be dead for good, provided Democratic mayoral nominee Bill DeBlasio wins Tuesday’s election and sticks to his campaign script. DeBlasio is leading opponent Joe Lhota by 39 percent in the latest poll and has proposed a citywide moratorium on the school squeezing that has been a trademark of Bloomberg’s administration. The Panel for Educational Policy is comprised of 13 members, eight of whom are mayor-appointed, while the rest are selected for their seats by each of the five borough presidents.

To head off a repeat of the education department’s finding that the Williamsburg school building is under-used, activists there are now working to come up with suggestions for how to grow the two schools. So far, they have come up with creating a gifted and talented program, adding language programs, and creating an adult education curriculum, but such programs would depend on increased funding from the city.

“We want to find ways to grow this school and make it more appealing,” said Robert Burstein, an English as a Second Language teacher at PS 196 elementary school.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Good luck with your failing schools...just keep acting like nothing is wrong.
Nov. 4, 2013, 12:46 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
May I please ask what exactly defines a failing school? It seems pretty biased at times. Also, I don't see how a closing a school that claims to be failing really helps when it just makes it harder for other schools to go along with it when they are already pretty full themselves. Then again, it was always part of the way for Bloomberg to say that public schools are a failure by making them one as well as vilify the UFT in the process. The former site of the school either becomes a charter school by one of his favorite hedge fund managers or gets demolished for another luxury development by one of his rich buddies. Of course, that's Bloomberg for you.
Nov. 4, 2013, 4:12 pm
JAY from NYC says:
no Tal the UFT is part of the problem, just go look up the rubber room to see so, and by the way the UFT existed long before Bloomberg and the NYC graduation rates were even worse before Bloomberg.
The schools here are horrible and a joke. A failure of school Tal (other than what ever schools you attended) is for example one where 80% of the students are below grade level in all subjects. A failing school system is like NYC which has a graduation rate massively below the national average.
Tal what school was closed and turned into a luxury development by Bloomberg Tal? What is the exact address Tal, and where is your evidence or are you just lying?
Nov. 5, 2013, 6:18 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jay, it was Bloomberg and his cronies that created the rubber room, not the UFT. If you really believe that Waiting for Superman spoke the truth about public schools, you are probably not than a fifth grader according to Jeff Foxworthy. Most of the teachers in the rubber room have been there for more than a year and have still yet to get a hearing. Even prisoners waiting in holding cells got a court date sooner than they did. Schools doing bad should NOT be placed solely on the blame of the teacher, because I feel that even parents and students themselves should be held responsible for their failures especially when students refuse to do their homework or study for tests. The teachers are NOT their babysitters, and education should start at home. It's very easy to blame the teachers as they are constantly being used as a scapegoat even when there is no proof on such. If you still believe that the UFT supports the status-quo, they don't, they support the Sunset Clause, and I suggest looking that up. Unlike charter school teachers, public school teachers are teaching almost for life, because they really care about their job compared to the charter school teachers that come and go every few years. It's no lie that public schools do get phased out of their own building especially when charter schools move in and eventually take over. As for Bloomberg, he only made the public school system go from bad to worse, plus he was even known for hiring Joel Klein as head of the DOE, who was a lawyer and personal friend of his, and NO prior experience with teaching, which is what is causing public to do bad now, because he was able to get by numerous laws he couldn't get by before with such ways as expanding classroom sizes on public schools just to make them look bad.
Nov. 5, 2013, 9:23 pm

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