Schools Chancellor Walcott Blows Off Meeting With Sunset Park Parents
SUNSET PARK — Fourteen days have passed since New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott pledged June 14 to meet within two weeks with parents about a reduction in pre-K classes in Sunset Park.
The promise came at a town hall-style meeting with Community Education Council District 15, which covers Sunset Park, Red Hook and other neighboring communities in southwest Brooklyn.
At the meeting, parents and CEC 15 president Jim Devor expressed consternation over the Department of Education's decision to cut optional pre-K classes at P.S. 94 on Sixth Avenue this fall to make room for mandatory kindergarten classes.
"P.S. 94 and 169 in Sunset Park are ranked first and third in the highest kindergarten wait-lists in the entire city," Devor said in a telephone interview. "The city of New York believes — appropriately — that kindergarten is an absolute right of parents. So they scuffle around trying to figure out ways to shift these kids about, so they can bring these kids into kindergarten."
The number of pre-K seats at P.S. 94 were cut in half, DOE press secretary Erin Hughes confirmed in an email, to one full-day section of 18 seats from two full-day sections of 36 seats. Another 18-seat pre-K section was established at another school in the CEC district.
Hughes, however, did not make any promises about a meeting with Walcott. "We are working with administration in Sunset Park to set up a meeting with the Chancellor in the fall," she said.
P.S. 94 administrators declined to comment.
"They're going to let the problem fester until residents make even more aggressive entreaties to them," Devor said. "There were promises made about meeting, and nothing's been said or done since then."