BROOKLYN — A set of public meetings has been scheduled this month to discuss the controversial school rezoning that would affect future students in Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Vinegar Hill.
Representatives from the Department of Education's Office of District Planning will present and discuss their draft proposal to change the zone boundaries of P.S. 8 and P.S. 307.
Local residents and the district's Community Education Council were first presented with the plan Sept. 1. The two town hall meetings are slated for Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. at P.S. 307 and Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 8.
The city's draft rezoning plan would redraw the current lines, splitting the neighborhoods more equally between P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights and P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill, according to the DOE's presentation — a change that many parents say is necessary and inevitable.
"It needs to happen," said Brooklyn Heights dad Michael Subracko whose family moved to the neighborhood in March from Seattle. His son started first grade at P.S. 8 this week.
"With a changing neighborhood, we must change as well," he added.
P.S. 8's existing zone is considered one of the largest in the district while P.S. 307's is one of the smallest, according to Brooklyn Bridge Parents.
And despite available seats at P.S. 307, parents have been slow to accept the school as an alternative to P.S. 8.
The meetings will be a chance for community members to offer feedback on the proposed rezoning, which is still in draft stages and can be modified before the final draft would be presented to District 13's council on Sept. 30, said David Goldsmith, the group's president.
According to the DOE's presentation, rezoning would alleviate overcrowding while growing P.S. 307's zone. Ultimately, the change would put DUMBO and Vinegar Hill in P.S. 307's zone while leaving Brooklyn Heights in P.S. 8's zone.
"Geographically, four-year-olds shouldn't have to walk a mile to go," said Beth Eisgrau-Heller, whose son is a student at P.S. 8.
P.S. 307, a magnet school for STEM studies that also offers Mandarin language classes, "is a great school that has great programs in place," said Katharina Goetz, whose son began pre-K at the school this week.
"I hope that DUMBO will embrace it," she added.
But some believe DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights parents have been hesitant to accept P.S. 307 because they are unfamiliar with the school and think it is unsafe.
On the other hand, P.S. 307's community fears that an influx of students from the wealthy neighborhoods could leave them overcrowded and affect the demographic of their school, CEC president Goldsmith said.
“People fear a repeat of what seems to have happen all over this city,” he said. “Somehow access to the people who need those schools the most is limited.”
Existing zones for P.S. 8 and P.S. 307:
Proposed zones for P.S. 8 and P.S. 307:
Once the DOE presents its final draft to CEC13 on Sept. 30, the council will have 45 days from the date that the district superintendent officially hands them the document.
If the application is approved by the CEC this fall, the changes would take place in the next school year. However, the new zones would only effect incoming pre-K, kindergarten and new students into the system while currently enrolled students would remain in their schools.
Parents and local residents are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposal. Comments can be submitted online to the CEC or during the scheduled public meetings this month.