Call it a secular conversion.
The city is considering putting a public school in Sunset Park’s St. Agatha School now that the Diocese of Brooklyn announced it will shutter the nearly 100-year-old Catholic academy this June. The Seventh Avenue building is in the heart of Sunset Park’s packed School District 15, where the city’s School Construction Authority is scrambling to ease overcrowding and is a natural fit for a new school, said the district manager of Community Board 7, which has been advocating the conversion.
“The building is in an area that is in dire need of school seats,” said Jeremy Laufer. “It’s near two of our most overcrowded schools in the district — PS 94 and PS 169. It’s already a school, so it makes sense.”
More than 32,600 students are enrolled in the district — roughly 2,600 more kids than there is room for, according to enrollment and school capacity records from the Department of Education.
The stuffed school district could use the seats, but parents and alumni are fighting the diocese to keep St. Agatha’s open, and it’s a sin that the city is coveting the school before it is even shuttered, said one parent.
“It’s disrespectful that it’s being considered while we’re fighting to keep it open,” said Sunset Parker Juliana Rivera, whose son and daughter attend St. Agatha School. “We’re still fighting to try and keep this place open. We’re meeting with people in the school, in the church. We’re really trying.”
Church officials cite dwindling enrollment and a lack of money to keep the parochial school up and running, but many are skeptical that the diocese doesn’t have the dough and believe officials are looking to make a quick buck by renting the space to the city.
The dioceses maintains that it doesn’t have plans for the building. But the city is receptive to the idea of erecting a public school on St. Agatha’s ashes, said a Department of Education spokesman.
“We will aggressively pursue all opportunities to bring additional high-quality seats to the Sunset Park neighborhood, and we are aware of the announcement to close the St. Agatha School,” said Michael Aciman.
©2017 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.