BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — In an effort to bring greater resources to students, the city’s Department of Education is looking to merge two Brooklyn schools that it says struggle with low enrollment.
The proposed consolidation would combine Brighter Choice Community School and the Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration, both of which already share a building at 280 Hart St. near Marcus Garvey Boulevard.
If approved by the Panel for Educational Policy, students, staff and resources for both schools would be merged in the next academic year and Young Scholars’ Academy would cease to exist as an option for students.
Young Scholars’ students would have access to a variety of academic and enrichment opportunities if the plan goes through, according to the DOE, and parents at a recent Community Educational Council meeting for District 16 emphasized the arts programs Brighter Choice currently offers.
“I applaud the proposed consolidation,” said Paula Marshall, whose daughter attends first grade at Brighter Choice. “I think it’s an absolutely fabulous idea.”
Marshall added that placing her child at the school was her “saving grace” and that the planned merger would bring additional programming for all students.
Currently, Brighter Choice offers extracurricular activities that include African dance, chess, cheerleading, yoga and basketball, with partnerships with local arts organizations. Young Scholars’ selection includes drumming, arts and crafts, and a fourth-grade science and STEM club.
Brighter Choice is taking “wonderful steps” in making sure all parties are accommodated, Marshall said, and collaboration between both elementary schools has already begun, according to the DOE and Brighter Choice teachers.
In addition to staff from the two schools sharing instructional practices, they’re planning a joint pep rally to bring students together to discuss the proposed changes.
Kids from Young Scholars and Brighter Choice participate together in activities such as yoga and anti-bullying initiatives, one Brighter Choice educator said, adding that she looks forward to the consolidation.
The merger would be the latest for Bed-Stuy, with two middle schools already slated to be combined in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Brighter Choice has an enrollment of 167 pre-K through fifth grade students, according to 2015-2016 DOE data, and Young Scholars’ has 183. The two also share a building with P.S. K140., which serves 54 kindergarten through second-grade students with a range of special needs.
There is no major anticipated change to P.S. K140’s operations in the proposal, according to the DOE.
CEC16 members told parents that they’ve heard positive responses regarding the Brighter Choice and Young Scholars’ plan, and passed a resolution on Jan. 19 in support of the consolidation.
The proposal would create a student body large enough to increase and improve support for kids, they said, adding that it has garnered strong support by parent leaders of both schools and “it appears that the two school cultures will blend easily.”
The resolution passed with a unanimous vote of seven members.
The DOE will hold a public hearing on the plan on Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. at 280 Hart St., followed by the PEP vote at 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan.