The DOE’s plan proposes to merge two public schools in Bed-Stuy and to cut rooms from a GED program, to make space for a third, a charter school.
Teachers and parents joined the Citywide Council on High Schools (CCHS) and the Citywide Education Council (CEC) on Thursday for the second public hearing on the Department of Education’s proposal to merge and relocate several schools in Bedford Stuyvesant. The meeting at P.S.9 Teunis Bergen School gave attendees an opportunity to express their sentiments, which included both support and objection.
In February, the DOE revealed the Building Utilization Plan, a proposal that would affect the Boys High School Building on Marcy Avenue and P.S.9 on Underhill Avenue.
The old Boys High School is home to Bed-Stuy Prep, Brooklyn Academy High School and Pathway to Graduation (P2G), a free high school equivalency prep program. P.S.9 is currently sharing its building with Uncommon Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School. The DOE proposes to consolidate Brooklyn Academy and Bed-Stuy Prep into one school and to move Uncommon Charter School into the same building. According to the DOE, the proposal would be a solution to P.S.9’s long-standing issue of overcrowding while addressing the under-utilization of Bed-Stuy Prep and Brooklyn Academy.
Yet, the controversial plan is met with both approval and opposition. Teachers and parents of students from P.S.9 appear to generally support the plan because the school has been overcrowded for several years. One mother raised the example of the shared cafeteria, utilized by both P.S.9 and Uncommon Charter School. During the lunch hour rush, “some children only have five minutes to eat lunch,” she said.
Representatives from Brooklyn Academy and Bed-Stuy Prep expressed concerns about a possible overcrowding of their schools if they should be consolidated. The current enrollment of the two schools is 157 and 124, respectively. “Although [neither of] the schools has a lot of students, if you combine them, it will be a lot,” said Celia Green, president of CCHS.
Speakers on behalf of P2G also expressed their concerns about the proposal. Should the plan be approved, the program, which currently has 214 students enrolled, would lose four classrooms and its successful bike program which teaches students how to assemble bikes and even prepares them for jobs. “Seven of the program’s participants were hired as bike technicians by Citi Bike last week,” said Nicole Greaves, a P2G teacher. “It means a lot.”
Representatives from Uncommon Charter School did not respond to the request for comments.
A third public hearing is expected before the Panel For Education Policy’s final vote on April 25; a date has yet to be confirmed.