PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Parents called on the city to reserve a new public school slated to rise inside the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project for middle school students.
Parents, local elected officials and community leaders told a School Construction Authority representative at a public hearing Wednesday that while the current plan for the site calls for a 616-seat public school that would house both elementary and middle school students, what District 13 really needs is middle school seats only.
“I think it’s undeniable that our elementary school capacity has improved dramatically over the last few years,” David Goldsmith, president of Community Education Council 13 — which extends from Brooklyn Heights to Bedford-Stuyvesant and parts of Park Slope — said at the hearing hosted by Community Board 8.
Goldsmith cited improvements at P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights and P.S. 11 and 20 in Clinton Hill. But, he said, “Our parents are wondering where their children who are attending these great, excellent elementary schools — where they’re going to go.”
Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, who represents much of District 13 echoed that sentiment, saying, “If I hear one concern out of parents from District 13, it’s the lack of a middle school.”
“My concern is that at 616 seats, it won’t even be enough to address the needs of District 13, especially with the expected development at Atlantic Yards,” she added.
The school is set to be housed inside a soon-to-be-built residential tower at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street, next door to the Barclays Center. The developers of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project are expected to break ground on that building next summer.
The SCA’s representative, Kenrick Ou, assured the crowd, “by no means is this a done deal.”
Residents also raised concerns about safety for young children given the school's location in close proximity to highly trafficked Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, as well as a firehouse across the street and the 78th Precinct stationhouse around the corner.
“We’ve done our assessment and we believe that the conditions are manageable,” Ou said, while assuring a resident at the meeting that the SCA will “take a closer look” at the site plan.
The hearing was part of a 45-day public comment period on the school plan that will end on June 29. Anyone can submit a comment to the SCA about the proposal by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The new school will also need approval by the mayor and the City Council, Ou said, before construction can begin.