In an effort to deal with overcrowding, Bay Ridge is getting its first high school in nearly 100 years, reports The Brooklyn Paper. The announcement comes in response to overcrowding at both Fort Hamilton High School and the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, both schools well over 100% capacity.
For years, locals have complained about School District 20's jam-packed classrooms commonly describing school hallways as “bursting at the seams.” But now, it appears that a site for a new Bay Ridge high school has been found, and it has sparked excitement throughout the district, along with some skepticism.
“Even though people have been yelling and screaming, and rightfully so, that the high schools in Bay Ridge have been overcrowded for 30 years, the DOE doesn’t see it the same way,” said Bay Ridge Council Member Justin Brannan. “They don’t see any overcrowding.”
Due to city policy, students are able to attend any school in the city, rather than being assigned to the one closest to home, causing the DOE to be slow to deal with overcrowding schools that are concentrated in one area. And while no one at the DOE has been reluctant to find a new site for a school in Bay Ridge, given the way high schools operate in the city the situation was reduced to a matter of timing and location.
“They’re like ‘look, you might not have a seat in the school, the high school on your corner. But there’s a seat for your kid at the high school in Canarsie or Park Slope or East New York or wherever,” said Brannan.
Currently, a site at 425 Ovington Ave., the location of the St. Nicholas Home, a now-closed assisted living home in Bay Ridge, was switched from an elementary school to a high school. The site has 36,000 square feet, which could provide about 900 seats for future high school students — which is a significantly smaller seating number than most of New York City’s public high schools.
“I think the days of having high schools that are built for 1,500 or 2,000 kids, it’s over,” Brannan said.
“Where are you building? You’re gonna have to build smaller schools, more local high schools. But like, I couldn’t think of a space where it’s big enough to build a school for 2,000 [students]. So you got to build as you can, maybe we’re looking at some more high schools maybe.”
The next step is for the School Construction Authority to conduct a public review process on the St. Nicholas Home location. Afterward, the local community board (CB10) and D20 will be required to hold a town hall within 30 days to discuss the upcoming project with the public including, “but not limited to the responsiveness of the site plan to projected changes in student population in the affected community board or boards and how such plan factors and accounts for student population projections.”
And if construction to build this new Bay Ridge high school is approved, it is unknown when to expect the completion of the school. Brannan is hopeful for the school to be ready by 2026, but even he is unsure.