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Gravesend gains ground! Excitement builds for new middle school set to open in South Brooklyn in 2026

NYC education leaders celebrated the construction of a new middle school coming to Gravesend in 2026.
Officials celebrated the start of construction of a new middle school coming to Gravesend in 2026.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

In a move to boost education in Gravesend, the New York City School Construction Authority broke ground  last week on a 553-seat middle school slated to open in September 2026.

City officials said the new center, John Dewey Middle School, will open behind the namesake high school at 50 Ave. X.

Nina Kubota, president and CEO of the SCA, joined other education and elected leaders on May 30 to celebrate the construction of a three-story “feeder” school. The school will welcome students ages 6 to 8, who will likely go straight to John Dewey High School.

rendering of john dewey middle school in gravesend
A rendering of the completed John Dewey Middle School annex. Image courtesy of the School Construction Authority

“This project is a perfect example of providing support tailored to the specific needs of a school community through a carefully thought out and collaborative use of resources,” Kubota said in a statement. “Building this annex lays the foundation for future generations. As a feeder to John Dewey High School, we are crafting a continuum of excellence, where young minds grow, ready to fulfill dreams and expand their horizons.”

John Dewey Middle School is expected to feature 18 classrooms, two science labs and speech and reading rooms. Officials said students can also enjoy a guidance site, a medical suite, a playground, a library, an exercise room, student dining and designated art and music spaces.

Council Member Justin Brannan, who represents the area, said the project will be a great place for students to learn for generations to come.  

“Since the day I was elected, building new public schools has been one of my most urgent priorities,” Brannan told Brooklyn Paper. “We know kids thrive when they have individualized attention from our educators and access to state of the art resources. Southern Brooklyn has some of the best public schools in the city and therefore they are some of the most overcrowded. Building new schools is the clear way to build on that success and deliver that world-class, high-quality public education to more and more local kids.”

School District 21, which includes Gravesend, is set to open more learning centers in the coming years, including a 391-seat addition at P.S. 253 on Ocean View Avenue. Another campus on 60th Street is currently under construction, bringing an additional 640 seats to the district in 2025. The new schools come as New York City tackles the issue of overcrowding with a hefty Capital Plan.

“Our school buildings are the physical pillars of each and every community that we serve,” Schools Chancellor David C. Banks said in a statement. “Our continued collaboration with our School Construction Authority partners ensures our buildings and annexes such as this one bring together our staff, students, families, and neighbors alike.”

justin brannan with shovel at john dewey groundbreaking
Council Member Justin Brannan said building new public schools is one of his most urgent priorities. Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

District 21 is no stranger to overcrowding.

According to a 2023 report by the New York City Department of Education, only 31% of classes in District 21 are at or below the class size caps, which is determined by New York State law, leaving over half of the region with packed classrooms.

In September 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law that would help reduce the number of students in each classroom in New York City, with a focus on helping schools that serve areas with higher poverty rates. The new rule will gradually reduce the number of students in each classroom from 20 to 25 students over a period of five years, starting in 2023 and ending in 2028.

The previous law allowed for a 33 seat-cap in city middle schools and 34 in high schools. The new cap has been lowered to 23 and 25 respectively.