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MS 313 To Move to DUMBO And Focus on STEM Studies

By Nikhita Venugopal | November 20, 2015 2:57pm | Updated on November 22, 2015 8:02pm
 The school building at 209 York St., which currently houses both PS 307 and MS 313.
The school building at 209 York St., which currently houses both PS 307 and MS 313.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

DUMBO — A struggling Vinegar Hill middle school will be moving to DUMBO next year with a STEM-focused academic program, officials decided at a public meeting Thursday. 

Satellite West Middle School (MS 313) will be rebranded and relocated from 209 York St. across from the Farragut Houses, to a Two Trees development at 19 Dock St. at Water Street in September 2016 after the Panel For Educational Policy unanimously approved the school's move Thursday night. The regulation takes effect Friday.

"We have designated their school to be a STEM science-focused school," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said at the meeting. 

The Department of Education's proposal to redesign and move MS 313 was met with criticism from local parents, who said they were promised a new middle school in the Two Trees DUMBO building and not merely the relocation of an existing one. 

"I think we all hoped this would be an opportunity for a reboot," said Maggie Spillane, a local mom and member of District 13's Community Education Council. Spillane was the only parent who spoke out against the MS 313 proposal at the poorly-attended meeting. 

"Instead what we're getting is an experiment," she said.

But Fariña insisted that she had been meeting with school and parent leaders to discuss an "overall plan" for middle schools in District 13 although she did not provide details of the conversations.

She added that admission to M.S. 313 would be open to students throughout the district. 

City education officials had proposed M.S. 313's move to DUMBO in hopes of growing its student population. The school, which currently has only 86 students, has faced shrinking enrollment and was recently labeled "persistently dangerous" by the state, though some say the designation is unfair. 

The new building, which Fariña described as "maginficent," will have a number of new amenities, including a science lab, a science demo room and a music suite, according to the DOE proposal

School leaders in the district have been seeking feedback from parents through forums planned around M.S. 313's redesign. 

District 13 is working on a controversial school rezoning process for P.S. 8, an overcrowded school in Brooklyn Heights, and P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill.

Since M.S. 313 shares a building with P.S. 307, its move to DUMBO is crucial to the rezoning scenario as the DOE plans to increase enrollment at P.S. 307. 

The DOE's Office of District Planning will present its final proposal to rezone the schools on Monday, Nov. 23. The CEC is expected to vote before Jan. 5.