Sour on new school, sweet on P.S. 135 growth – City’s construction plans leave many neighborhood parents cold

By Michèle De Meglio

District 18 will soon have another school building – but it’s not the one parents want. Members of the Community Education Council (CEC) representing schools in East Flatbush and Canarsie are up in arms that the city’s latest listing of forthcoming school construction projects does not include plans to build an addition for a cramped elementary school. “The bottom line is we want the school extended,” said James Dandridge, president of District 18’s CEC. With cash tight for the city to build new schools, the CEC criticized officials for moving ahead with a plan to construct an elementary school in Canarsie but not an addition for P.S. 135, located at 684 Linden Boulevard. The creation of the Canarsie school, which will be built on East 107th Street between Flatlands Avenue and Avenue J and maintain grades pre-K to eight, has also caused an uproar with residents who are angry that construction workers would have to use portions of their lawns to store equipment. “They’d rather put a new school in District 18 that the public doesn’t even want” than open an addition for P.S. 135, Dandridge said. He advised the city Department of Education (DOE) to “take the money from the new school and put it toward the extension.” “I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a good thing [to have a new school], I’m just saying the need is more to extend P.S. 135,” he continued. “We have to put our priorities together. “We’re the education council, where’s our say on this?” A spokesperson for the DOE did not return a call for comment. The CEC spent the last few months advocating for an addition to be built for P.S. 135. Members say the extra building is needed for classroom space, as the school is struggling to accommodate its student body. It’s so crowded that the students learn in trailers parked in the schoolyard and first- and second-graders are bused to another school building, parents say. They think the best way to rectify the situation would be to remove the trailers and in their place, build an addition on a portion of the schoolyard. “Why have all these temporary buildings when we could have a permanent building?” Dandridge said. And there’s enough room for another building, he said. “It’s a massive schoolyard,” he explained. “The school itself only takes up one-quarter of the property.” The CEC plans to formally recommend that the city build an addition for P.S. 135. In the meantime, the school is slated to receive a system upgrade. According to the DOE’s latest amendment to its $13.1 billion capital plan, which lists school construction projects, money has been set aside for a “climate control” upgrade.