Gowanus NYCHA residents want school rezoning plan halted

DOE delays zoning scheme for Brownstone Brooklyn elementary schools
Google Maps

Residents at a Gowanus housing project called on city education honchos to halt their ambitious scheme to desegregate local elementary schools until they’ve had a proper chance to weigh in.

“There’s no engagement at all really,” said Edward Tyre, President of the Gowanus Resident Association. “In order to be engaged in, you have to put time in.”

Department of Education reps presented their two rezoning proposals — which would alter the enrollment criteria for seven nearby elementary schools — to residents of the housing projects near Wyckoff and Hoyt streets at an Oct. 15 meeting, which was attended by a few dozen people.

One of the proposals would substantially redraw the zoning map for the schools — shrinking lines for some heavily-attended schools, and expanding the zoning area for schools with low-attendance.

PS 32, where Gowanus housing projects residents are currently zoned, would see an increase of coverage area — engulfing future students from Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.

The other proposal would end zoning altogether, and allocate students using a to the seven schools using a randomized lottery system.

Both proposals would further increase diversity in the seven elementary schools in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, and Red Hook, according to the Department of Education.

The city had hoped to implement one of the proposed rezoning plans by 2020, but some Brooklynites claim that department reps had not properly sought input from the whole community.

“You’re always going to engage with the people who are more active,” said Tracey Pinkard. “Sometimes you’ve just got to go out and do a little more legwork so you reach more people.”

According to Pinkard, Department of Education reps have failed to educate people about the potential ramifications of the two proposals — leaving many families confused.

“Make spaces more welcoming. Not dumb things down — but take out the DOE Jargon, [and] just be able to decode all of that so people can actually sift through it and feel like they’re going to go away with something that’s really meaningful,” she said.

Department reps. have suggested that they may delay the plan to further seek input from the potentially affected students — but some attendees of the Gowanus meeting questioned whether they would actually see the benefit of a longer time horizon.

“You can give them three more years, but over those three years, what are they doing?” said Tyre.

Reach reporter Ben Verde at (718) 260–2525 or by e-mail at bverde@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @verde_nyc.
Proposal One: Educational honchos unveiled a proposal that would potentially change the current school zones (represented with colors), using new boundaries (represented with bold lines).
Department of Education