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South Brooklyn Rezoning Will Save P.S. 154 Science Lab, Principal Says

By Leslie Albrecht | November 11, 2014 5:06pm
 The DOE is planning to rezone District 15 and expand the zone for P.S. 130 at Ocean Parkway and East Fifth Street.
The DOE is planning to rezone District 15 and expand the zone for P.S. 130 at Ocean Parkway and East Fifth Street.
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WINDSOR TERRACE — A Windsor Terrace principal is asking parents to back the proposed rezoning of Brooklyn's District 15, saying it's the only way his school can hold onto its science lab and keep class sizes from exploding.

Principal Eric Havlik of P.S. 154 said in an email to the school community Tuesday that he supports the proposed rezoning of P.S. 154, P.S. 130, P.S. 230 and P.S. 131, and he asked parents to sign a petition backing the proposal.

The District 15 Community Education Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday night on the rezoning, which some families have criticized in part because it will lengthen commute times for students switched from P.S. 154's zone to P.S. 130's zone.

"I realize that rezoning is a difficult process and impacts the families that are rezoned to another school…I am writing to let you know that I believe that our school will benefit from the proposed rezoning plan,” Havlik said in the email.

Without the rezoning, which will shrink the zone for P.S. 154 at 11th Avenue and Windsor Place, the school would be forced to close either its science lab or computer lab to make room for another kindergarten section, Havlik wrote.

P.S. 154 would also have "very large class sizes" in the first or third grades if the rezoning isn't approved, Havlik warned.

The school recently cut its pre-K program, but those seats could eventually be brought back along with a visual arts classroom if the school's zone gets smaller, Havlik said in the email.

More than 100 parents, mostly those who would be cut out of the P.S. 154 zone, have signed a petition against the proposed rezoning. In response, the CEC briefly considered enlarging the P.S. 154 zone, but CEC president Naila Rosario said Tuesday that the council had dropped that idea.

Rosario said the CEC is working to address parents' concerns about the safety of the longer commute some children will have to make across major streets such as McDonald Avenue. CEC officials will work with City Councilman Brad Lander and the city's Department of Transportation to improve street safety along the commute route, Rosario said.

The CEC also wrote up a list of responses to questions parents asked about the proposed rezoning.

A Windsor Terrace parent who is opposed to the rezoning said Tuesday that she called Lander's office, State Assemblyman Jim Brennan and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams about the issue, but she's resigned to the idea that the CEC will most likely approve the rezoning.

The mother to a 3-year-old said her family intentionally moved to within two blocks of P.S. 154, but under the rezoning her daughter would attend P.S. 130, about half a mile away from their house.

"Both my husband and I work," said the mom, who didn't want her name used. "We made a choice to live two blocks away from school so we could have time to spend with our child in the morning, rather than spending 15 to 20 minutes getting her to school. It's not a quality-of-school issue, it's a quality-of-life issue."

The District 15 CEC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at P.S. 230, 1 Albemarle Road.