Teachers Fight Third School's Placement in E. Williamsburg Building
EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Teachers, local officials and hundreds of residents are rallying to halt the placement of a third school in a building that already houses an elementary and middle school.
The city has proposed to open a new public middle school in the space shared by P.S. 196 and M.S. 582 on Bushwick Avenue, but shocked teachers said there was no way a third school could fit in the building.
"How did we become such a successful school? By offering enrichment, and many of those [programs] would be at least mitigated, perhaps ended," said P.S. 196 teacher Rob Burstein at a Brooklyn Community Board 1 meeting this week.
He noted that P.S. 196 offered special education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling and other programs that "demand a degree of privacy" for students.
Burstein said the third school, M.S. 330, would create a "safety hazard" for the elementary school students sandwiched between two middle schools.
"There was no community input on this," he said.
Hundreds of people have also signed an online petition fighting the co-location, and Councilwoman Diana Reyna is also opposing the plan.
But a spokesman for the city's Department of Education said that the additional school would serve a need in the district, noting that the building had the capacity for 1,000 students but only held about 600.
The spokesman insisted that the co-location would contribute to progress in a school system that "for decades failed to graduate even half its students."
"A once-broken system has been transformed with new, high performing schools — and those additional options have delivered extraordinary outcomes for children," DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said. "Our strategy has worked, and with this new school, that progress will continue.”
A hearing on the co-location will be held Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the school building at 207 Bushwick Ave. Teachers have organized a rally to take place before the hearing at 4:30 p.m.