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I.S. 223 to Remain As Is?

Rumors that a local middle school will be transformed into a high school are false, parent leaders insist. Fueled by gossip, irate parents packed a meeting of District 20’s Community Education Council (CEC) to demand that I.S. 223 the Montauk not be included in a proposal to alter the structures of a handful of local schools. “Instead of changing our school to a high school,” implored I.S. 223 guidance counselor Lisa Rosenberg, “we strongly urge you to maintain the current age population.” The only problem with this request was that changes were never planned for I.S. 223, located at 4200 16th Avenue. “There is no proposal in front of us to do anything different at Montauk,” explained Carlo Scissura, president of District 20’s CEC. The rumors have placed undue stress on I.S. 223 staffers, as teachers fear that parents of fifth-graders will hear the buzz, believe the school is closing down, and, as a result, not have their children apply to the school. “We hear rumors every single day of parents telling each other not to send their kids to our school because we’re shutting down,” a teacher asserted. With the knowledge that the school will remain as it is, I.S. 223 parents should encourage others to send their children to the Borough Park school, Scissura said. “Tell everyone what a great building it is,” he said. “Tell them to send their kids in September because you’re not closing.” While I.S. 223 will be staying put in its current form, three other schools may undergo structural changes. That’s if the city Department of Education (DOE) approves a zoning proposal penned by District 20 officials and the CEC. Each CEC in the city is required to create such a proposal, in which members may suggest changes to the zoning lines in their district in hopes of alleviating overcrowding. Rather than target all of the overcrowded schools in District 20, which remains one of the most overutilized districts in the city, officials focused their efforts on a select number of schools where they can make the most difference. “There is much to be done,” explained Mark Bramante, a member of District 20’s CEC. “But district staff said we should take small bites at a time.” As a result, the most and least overcrowded schools in District 20 are the subject of the proposal. “The most overcrowded school is P.S. 314,” said Community Superintendent Laura Feijoo. “The school has over 2,000 students.” To combat overcrowding at the school, which is located at 330 59th Street, district officials recommend phasing out P.S. 314 and replacing it with two small schools. “Zoning of children to 314 will not change. All families who are zoned for 314 will have a choice – one school or the other,” Feijoo said. To increase the student populations at District 20’s most underutilized schools, P.S. 192 at 4715 18th Avenue and P.S. 180 at 5601 16th Avenue, district reps suggest expanding the grades offered at the schools to kindergarten to eight. In doing so, students will remain in the buildings for three extra years, thereby raising each school’s utilization rate. In addition, since P.S. 192 and P.S. 180 will keep their students through junior high school, the number of students applying to nearby – and already overcrowded – middle schools, including I.S. 227 at 6500 16th Avenue, will decrease, Feijoo said. For I.S. 227, “It offers a bit of relief to that school,” she said. If District 20’s proposal is approved by the DOE, it will be returned to the CEC for a vote. If such is the case, the CEC could receive it in time for its February meeting. Since the CEC will have 45 days to vote on the proposal, it would not cast votes until its March meeting, Scissura said. The next meeting of District 20’s CEC will be held on February 8 at 7 p.m. at P.S. 180. For more information, contact the CEC at 718-759-3921.

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