They’re on a junior high!
The city will open a new middle school in the Pacific Park mega-development, education honchos unexpectedly announced Thursday, delighting locals who have been pushing for months to secure a dedicated learning space for tweens on the site.
“It was a great surprise, I can tell from the reactions from a lot of parents that it was very, very well received,” said Prospect Heights resident Gib Veconi.
The news came during a public forum with schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, where Veconi asked the education czar about the city’s plans for the school space in the development formerly known as Atlantic Yards, expecting she might confirm discussions were at least in the works. Instead, she responded that it was a done deal.
“I was very surprised,” said Veconi. “I wasn’t expecting her to come out with the plan.”
The city previously planned to use the Dean Street school space — which developer Bruce Ratner promised to include in the sprawling development in order to accommodate some of the thousands of new families it will bring to the area — as a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade facility.
But local residents and pols had other ideas, insisting what the area’s school district — which also encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Downtown, Dumbo, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill — really needs is a dedicated middle school, and launched a campaign in July last year demanding the city stick one there.
The activists renewed their demands in December after the developer unveiled broad designs for the seven-story, 616-desk school — which will be part of an apartment building — insisting the education department make a decision while the designs were still in the early stages so it could fit out the building with middle-schoolers in mind.
Veconi said he is now looking forward to working with other residents and education honchos to come up with a plan for the new school. The activists have been pitching a curriculum featuring software engineering and robotics, French and Spanish dual-language programs, and drama workshops with local theaters — a sentiment shared by the borough’s commander-in-chief, who backed the middle-school plan.
“The planning process to come should be an exciting and robust dialogue that includes a focus on infusing science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum and dual-language studies into high-quality classroom experiences,” said Borough President Adams.
The announcement came on the same day the education department unveiled plans for its redesign of struggling Vinegar Hill’s MS 313, which will move into a new building in Dumbo this fall — upping the ante for middle schools in the district, Veconi said.
“All of a sudden we’re looking at a future where we have some really good middle-school options in District 13,” he said.
Construction on the Atlantic Yards school got underway in December and is slated to open in 2018.