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Parents, Teachers and Students Protest I.S. 2 Co-location Plans

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 4, 2013 10:35am
 Hundreds of parents, students and teachers called on the DOE to stop the co-location plans of I.S. 2.
Parents Oppose I.S. 2 Co-Location
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MIDLAND BEACH — Hundreds of parents, teachers and students of I.S. 2 voiced their opposition to the city's plan to co-locate a school in the building during a public hearing on Thursday night.

At the meeting, parents urged the Department of Education to re-think plans to put a middle school inside the same building as I.S. 2, the Egbert Intermediate School.

Before the meeting, parents held signs outside on the street of Midland Avenue while the schools band played and a petition opposing the move was circulated. It's now been signed by 1,200 people, organizers of the protest said.

"What more can we possibly do to say we don't want this in the community?" said Holly Marsirillo, a parent sixth grader in the school. "We don't want this."

Complaints voiced at the hearing included that the DOE had not provided evidence that the school would benefit from the co-location, and worries that teachers would be laid off or enrichment programs like art and music cut.

The DOE said they chose the school because it received straight C's on their three most recent progress reports, but some at the meeting said the school shouldn't be blamed because they lost class time after Hurricane Sandy.

"We lost almost three months of our education because of Hurricane Sandy, and the Department of Education made the state tests a lot harder for all of us," said Isabella Gonzalez, an eighth grader at the school.

And with a generator and an outside boiler being used since Sandy sent 10 feet of water throughout the building, parents and teachers thought the DOE should instead use the co-location money to repair the school.

"When this community is down, you think you can take advantage of us," said Mark Zozala, a school psychiatrist at I.S. 2 for 30 years. "We need collaboration, not co-location."

The representative for Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at the meeting, Elaine Gorman, did not address any concerns brought up at the hearing, and only ran through the co-location plan.

The DOE said the new school would offer parents more options.

"Across the city, we’ve transformed the landscape with high performing new school options," said Harry Hartfield, spokesman for the DOE in a statement.

"Our strategy has worked. The historic gains made across the five boroughs have been possible largely because of our new schools, and with this additional neighborhood option, that progress will continue."

If approved, the plan will add a school serving sixth through eighth grade at the school, and scale back the student population of I.S. 2 starting in 2014.

The school will also be zoned, and parents in the neighborhood would get to choose between the two, the DOE said.

The co-location and smaller student population would shrink class sizes,  the DOE said.

But parents at the meeting said they'd rather have smaller class sizes in the one school.

Aside from parents, elected officials also threw their support against the co-location plans at the hearing.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis read a letter from Assemblyman Michael Cuisck, Councilman James Oddo and State Sen. Andrew Lanza opposing the plan at the hearing.

"This program is most certainly misguided and ill-conceived," Malliotakis read. "We want one building, one student body and one administration."

A representative from mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio also read a statement where de Blasio said he would halt all school closures and co-locations made in the final months of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's term and re-evaluate them if elected.

The Panel for Educational Policy is scheduled to vote on the plan at their Oct. 15 meeting at the Prospect Heights Campus in Brooklyn.