By Michèle De Meglio
Marine Park will soon have another school offering grades six to eight.That’s because the city Department of Education (DOE) has greenlighted plans to relocate P.S. 207 to the recently-closed St. Thomas Aquinas School, 1501 Hendrickson Street.In September, the school will leave its home at 4011 Fillmore Avenue and open at the new facility and, for the first time, as a kindergarten to eighth grade school. It currently has classes in kindergarten to fifth grade.“I think it’s good news,” said Lisa Cronen, whose daughter is in the fourth grade at P.S. 207. “I know where she’s going to be. I know she’s going to be safe and in an environment that’s conducive to learning.”Like Cronen, many Marine Park parents are now resting easy, as they spent the last few weeks passionately lobbying for the project to stay afloat.The move was in jeopardy because the necessary funding for the relocation had not been made available by the state.The city was counting on the money to come from the state’s compliance with the decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit. Calling city schools underfunded, a judge ruled that local schools must receive an extra $5.6 billion in operating funds over the next four years and $9.2 billion over the next five years for capital projects.However, the state has yet to abide by the verdict, which has been appealed by Governor George Pataki.While the DOE just selected the 21 school construction projects that will be delayed this year because of the missing CFE money, P.S. 207 luckily avoided this list.As DOE Spokesperson Alicia Maxey explained, that’s because the project is “critical to the need of the district for additional middle school grade seats.”According to DOE data, several middle schools in District 22, which covers Mill Basin and Flatbush, are overcrowded.Located at 2500 Nostrand Avenue, Andries Hudde School is at 128 percent capacity.W. Arthur Cunningham School, 1875 East 17th Street, is at 117.7 percent capacity.Roy H. Mann School, 1420 East 68th Street, is at 96.1 percent capacity.By contrast, the school closest to P.S. 207, Marine Park Junior High School at 1925 Stuart Street, is underutilized, with a capacity of just 75.8 percent.With additional space in the St. Thomas building, P.S. 207 will increase its student body, thereby alleviating overcrowding at District 22 junior high schools.Having P.S. 207 offer both elementary and middle school grades means children can remain in a school close to their homes and keep the same group of friends for several years – a key point important to many parents who backed the project.“I went to P.S. 207. I have three children now and I would like all of them to remain in the same school…and stay with each other in a small nurturing environment,” said Dina Scarpaci, whose kids are in kindergarten, second, and third grade.For this reason, a New Jersey-bound Scarpaci took her house off the market when she learned of the relocation last spring.However, when news got around that the move might not happen, she considered putting her house up for sale again – a sentiment she said many parents shared.But now that the school is in the works, those thoughts will probably fly out the window, she said.“It’s going to be a great move for the community,” she said.“The children of this community and their families are the winners today,” agreed State Senator Marty Golden.A call for comment to P.S. 207 Principal Mary Bosco was not returned.