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In or out! Elementary school map change tears Park Slope apart

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A proposed zoning change at two beloved Park Slope schools is drawing a thick line across the neighborhood — leaving parents on one side celebrating less crowded classrooms, and moms, dads, and property owners on the other side fearful they might not make the cut.

The city is considering creating new maps that determine which students get coveted spots at PS 321 and PS 107 — two perennially packed elementary schools that are so popular many parents move to the family–centric neighborhood just so their kids get guaranteed seats.

The new plan would shrink the areas zoned for each of the top-notch grade schools to reduce classroom crowding.

A Department of Education spokesman said the agency cannot yet release the exact streets affected by the proposed remapping — but educators note it will likely impact PS 321 families between Fourth and Fifth Avenues and PS 107 families on the southern border of the neighborhood, near Greenwood Heights and Windsor Terrace.

The rezoning will not affect students who already attend the schools, and it will not be implemented before fall 2013, the Department of Education says.

Under the plan, yet-to-be-enrolled students nixed from the PS 321 zone will attend the new elementary school slated to open on Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue.

Students cut out of the PS 107 zone will attend PS 10 in Windsor Terrace, according to PS 107 principal Eve Litwack, who supports the mapping proposal as a lesser of two evils.

“My school can’t keep accommodating students at the rate we are going — we are at a loss,” Litwack said.

Park Slope parents say they are torn by the proposal.

“It’s not a bad idea to help with crowding — but, for those of us who live west of Fifth Avenue, it’s a bummer,” Alana Fishberg, a PS 321 parent who hopes the plan will help the school stay “so fabulous,” but understands nobody wants to see his or her kid shut out.

The proposal, which was introduced by District 15’s Community Education Council, comes after Park Slope parents for years worried that classes at PS 321 were too jam-packed.

That’s part of the reason why some parents are cautiously optimistic.

“The new school could be just as great,” said Fishberg.

But real estate agents and Park Slope home hunters are a feeling little less hopeful.

“I just talked to a couple that was literally signing papers for a home west of Fifth — and they stopped midway through,” said PS 321 parent coordinator Marge Raphaelson. “That’s how crazy this is.”

The District 15 Community Education Council will take up the issue tonight at 7 pm at P.S. 38 (450 Pacific St. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Boerum Hill).

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Rob from Park Slope says:
If they are looking at zones, they need to look at the Slope's D15/D13 district line, roughly on Union St. All of Park Slope should be in a single school district (15). If the lines are going to be redrawn for PS321 & PS107, which impacts schools like PS39, PS10, etc., then a holistic approach to the entire neighborhood should be developed. That means looking at why PS321 is over-utilized, while PS282 (where my children go), just blocks away stays under-utilized. Any solution that does not consider these 2 other neighborhood schools (282 & 133), even though they are in D13, would be incomplete, if for no other reason than that 1) a key driver of over-crowding at PS321 is that there are a lot of 282 zoned kids who are at PS321, through both legitimate and illegitimate means, and 2) PS133 is part of the proposed solution.
Oct. 17, 2012, 8:53 pm
Rob from Park Slope says:
One other suggestion regarding the proposed solution for PS321 and PS107 -- why don't both schools do a complete 100% top to bottom "bed check" of their current enrolled students? The outcome might be to allow "amnesty" for some or all of the students and their parents, but until the actual facts are on the table about how many kids are in these schools through illegitimate means (e.g., borrowed utility bills), it seems like it would be hard to create a well-conceived solution to over-crowding.
Oct. 17, 2012, 9:07 pm

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