By Helen Klein
With the goal of redistributing students in District 20, to take advantage of classroom space where it is available, the Department of Education is poised to reinvent Public School 180 and Public School 192, extending them through eighth grade. At the February meeting of the District 20 Community Education Council (CEC), which was held at Public School 164, 4211 14th Avenue, Community Superintendent Laura Feijoo announced that the plan for extending to the two schools had been submitted to the CEC. While, overall, District 20 is significantly overcrowded – the most crowded district in Brooklyn, and the third most crowded in the city — P.S. 180, at 5601 16th Avenue, and P.S. 192, at 4715 18th Avenue, are both underutilized. P.S. 180 has a building capacity of 686 students, and a register, as of October 31, 2005, of 528 students, giving it a utilization rate of 77 percent. P.S. 192 has a building capacity of 676 students and a register, as of October 31, 2005, of 401 students, giving it a utilization rate of 59 percent. “We will extend one grade a year to build utilization at those schools,” explained Feijoo. By the end of three years, P.S. 180 is projected to be at 103 percent utilization, with 708 students, and P.S. 192 is projected to be at 76 percent utilization, with 520 students. The plan will be completely phased in by September, 2008. What’s the benefit in the move? “This particular plan,” stressed Feijoo, “will impact on middle schools throughout the district, because children who would have gone to other middle schools in District 20 will now stay” in their elementary schools. One overcrowded middle school that will get “relief” from the move, said Feijoo, is Intermediate School 220, John J. Pershing I.S., at 4812 Ninth Avenue, which she said was “over-utilized.” The zone is also being changed for Intermediate School 223, Montauk I.S., 4200 16th Avenue, in anticipation of a new small high school (see story in this issue) proposed for that site. The fact that, “The zoning lines for P.S. 180 and P.S. 192 will not change,” is, “Something we hoped would happen,” noted Carlo Scissura, the CEC’s president. “The only change will be, if you are currently zoned for fifth grade at 180 and 192, you will be zoned for sixth grade at 180 and 192. Many people thought we would be expanding the zones and changing the zone lines. We will not be doing that.” “Where is the money coming from and where will we find room for these children over the next three years?” asked Kelly Folk, a parent at P.S. 180. Neither should be a problem, according to Feijoo. Pointing out that local instructional superintendents are adept at stretching tight budgets, Feijoo told Folk that she was, “Absolutely sure” that Myrta Rivera, the local instructional superintendent who oversees the school, “will work with you to make the best use of the funds.” As for space issues, Feijoo told Folk, “We did a walk-through, and determined that this number of children could be housed at 180. There is no shortage of space.” Besides extending P.S. 180 and P.S. 192, DOE proposes to split what is certainly District 20’s largest school, Public School 314, 330 59th Street. Under the plan, P.S. 314, whose register is close to 2,000 students, “Will cease to exist,” said Feijoo, and will be replaced by two smaller schools with new numbers. “There will be no zoning changes there,” noted Scissura, who said that the two new schools would each have about 950 students. “If you are zoned for P.S. 314, you will continue to go to one of the elementary schools in that building.” The CEC, added Scissura, will be “introducing a resolution at our March meeting” in support of the change.