City moves ahead with co-location in PS 9 — despite state order

BREAKING: City closes a Prospect Heights middle school to make way for a charter
Community Newspaper Group / Andy Campbell

The Department of Education is moving ahead with a plan to jam a charter school into PS 9 building on Underhill Avenue, days after a state education official put the kibosh on the proposal.

The city’s new plan shows that the 900 students at the three schools — the elementary school, MS 571 and the Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School — can all learn under one roof between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue.

The plan provides for a special “building council” comprised of the principals of the three school that will smooth out space concerns as they pop up.

“We think the new proposal is in line [with what everyone wants],” Department of Education spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner had put the kibosh on an earlier version of the “co-location” plan last month, siding with parents about how students would share common areas like the gym, library and cafeteria.

PS 9 parents were surprised by how short their victory over City Hall was.

“It’s only been a week and they’re back,” said Faye Rimalovski. “It’s disheartening.”

There is little push for retaining MS 571, a poorly performing school that the city will phase out over the next two school years. Students scored in the bottom 10 percent on math tests, and the bottom two percent on English tests in recent years. MS 571 also earned a D grade on its latest city progress report.

The charter school will ultimately take up the space MS 571 leaves behind. But Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) and others have pushed for PS 9 to be allowed to expand into a middle school.

“PS 9 has achieved magnificent things and should be given an opportunity to expand,” James said. “But it’s evident that the city will continue to advance its agenda and impede the school’s growth.”

The Panel for Educational Policy vote on the issue at Long Island City High School [14-30 Broadway between Justice Avenue and 51st Avenue in Queens, (212) 374-0208] on May 18 at 6 pm. The proposal can be found at the Department of Education’s website at schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/leadership/PEP/publicnotice/2010-2011/May182011Proposals.