P.S. 245 to Relocate In September

By Michèle De Meglio

Parents can breathe easy. After weeks of wondering if the expected relocation of P.S. 245 to new – and larger – digs would proceed, the city Department of Education (DOE) announced that the project would go forward as planned. “I’m elated. I’m overjoyed. I’m very happy. Thrilled,” gushed Joan Ramsey, principal of P.S. 245. In September, the school will vacate its modest two-story space at 2222 Church Avenue, where it is sandwiched between stores, and set up shop at the recently-closed Holy Innocents School, 249 East 17th Street. The move was in jeopardy because the necessary funding for the project 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. 245 luckily avoided this list. As DOE Spokesperson Alicia Maxey explained, that’s because “there was needed replacement of the inadequate lease for 245.” In addition, moving to a larger building will relieve overcrowding at the school. According to DOE data, P.S. 245 is currently at 111.9 percent capacity. In its new home, the student population of P.S. 245 is expected to gradually expand. In turn, this will relieve overcrowding at other elementary schools in District 22, which covers schools in Flatbush and Mill Basin. The relocation was also given the green light, Maxey explained, because of it’s low cost compared to other school construction projects. Less than $7 million, the P.S. 245 move is a far cry from other projects in Brooklyn, some of which cost upwards of $50 million. The cramped quarters in P.S. 245’s current home have caused parents to demand a bigger building for more than 10 years. The Church Avenue building lacks several amenities that are vital to city schools – an auditorium, gymnasium, library, and playground. After a renovation, Holy Innocents is expected to include the above features, as well as a computer lab and science labs. “All of that is important to make a well-rounded child,” Ramsey said. To utilize the Holy Innocents building, the DOE entered into a “business agreement” with the Diocese of Brooklyn, leasing the property for 20 years. Holy Innocents Church, which is located at 279 East 17th Street, will continue to use the school building on weekends and after school hours, possibly for its youth athletic leagues, Region 6 Superintendent Gloria Buckery has said. With the new space, Ramsey, who has led P.S. 245 for the last three years, predicts a bright future for the school and its students. “From the time I took over the school, I was concerned about the space we’ve had here,” she said. “We’ve had a great time here. But it’s now time to move on.”