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Elementary, my dear Downtowners: Mayor says new school in big building will be for little kids

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The new Downtown school the city announced in July will be a much-needed elementary school, Mayor DeBlasio revealed at a town hall meeting in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday night.

“I want to formally announce that this will be an elementary school,” Hizzoner said at the packed meeting for District 33 residents, which encompasses Downtown, Boerum Hill, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.

The Department of Education this summer told residents that developer JEMB Realty will be building a six-story school for 332-students inside of its high-end office building at 420 Albee Square West between Fulton and Willoughby streets, but didn’t say which youngsters the learning house will serve.

Local parents and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill) hoped the city would build an elementary school to provide seats for the influx of kids moving into the booming neighborhood, a result of a 2004 rezoning that brought a bounty of residential towers to the neighborhood.

The problem had gotten so bad that Borough President Adams deemed in 2015 there would be a “school capacity crisis” if the city didn’t start building more primary schools Downtown.

The head of the area Community Education Council, a parent advisory panel that acts as a liaison between the Department of Education and parents in District 13, cheered the news and said it’s the right move to help start tackling the stuffed youngster school market.

“I think it’s great” said Ayanna Behin, president of the council. “It makes sense to turn it into an elementary school because of the overcrowding going on Downtown.”

But she wants to make sure that the new school doesn’t just serve rich, white kids moving into the nearby high-rises and said it’s important that school officials work to avoid that when deciding which kids will be zoned into the institution.

“We’re trying to make sure that the district is integrated racially and socioecono­mically,” she said. “We hope that they take that into account when planning.”

The developer filed permits for the 36-story tower in September, and construction is expected to begin soon.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:53 pm, July 9, 2018
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