BROOKLYN — Officials will unveil plans for new schools and new seats in fast-growing District 15 at a public forum Wednesday night, and parents are expected to demand answers on exactly when and where the new facilities will be built.
The District 15 Community Education Council will host the meeting, where officials with the School Construction Authority will present the latest capital plan amendment, the 668-page document that lists the projected timetable for new schools.
Parents are eager for answers on when and where the SCA intends to build schools in District 15, especially in Sunset Park, where crowding is so severe that students at some schools are bused to less crowded schools such as P.S 124 in the South Slope.
Javier Salamanca of Quality Schools for Sunset Park grew up in the area and remembers seeing temporary trailers to ease crowded classrooms at P.S. 169 as a kid.
Now he's preparing to send his son to kindergarten next year and overcrowding is still an issue at the school, where in recent years lunch periods have lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. because it takes that long to serve all 1,600 students.
While District 15 has a reputation for some of the best schools in the city, students in the Sunset Park part of the district are often forced to forgo music, art or gym because there's not enough space for those extras, Salamanca said.
Those disparities hit low-income kids and students who are learning English especially hard, Salamanca said. "Kids like that should be getting more art, more music, more gym, not less — that's where learning deficits start," Salamanca said.
Salamanca said he'll be listening closely Wednesday for information about whether the city has actually set aside funding for the new seats needed in Sunset Park, and for updates on projects that were funded in previous capital plans.
The city recently announced plans to build a new 300-seat elementary school on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 46th Street, but that's only a drop in the bucket — there's a need for 2,610 new seats in Sunset Park, according to the capital plan amendment.
In Park Slope, 2,744 more seats are needed, and in Carroll Gardens/Gowanus/Red Hook there's a need for 2,192, according to the capital plan amendment.
The capital plan amendment lists several projects designed to increase capacity across the sprawling district, which includes parts of Park Slope, Gowanus, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington.
Projects in the works include:
► Construction is expected to start in June 2017 on a 436-seat addition at P.S. 32.
► Construction is expected to start in January 2018 on a 332-seat elementary school at 4302 Fourth Ave., the landmarked former police station.
► Design work is scheduled to start this year on four other school buildings that are projected to add a total of 2,952 seats, but SCA hasn't found sites for them yet.
The capital plan amendment presentation Wednesday will also include details on repairs to existing school buildings, an SCA spokesman said, adding that officials look forward to gathering feedback from parents, CEC members and other stakeholders.
The amendment was announced in November and SCA officials are now in the process of presenting details to each Community Education Council. The Panel for Education Policy and the City Council will vote on whether to approve the plans in June.
The Community Education Council District 15 public forum on the capital plan amendment will be held Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at P.S. 172, 825 Fourth Ave. (at 29th Street). Translation services will be available for Spanish, Chinese and Bengali.