Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Once Again, DoE Maneuvering Puts Students Last. This Time It's At PS32

Trying to understand the irrational decisions of the NYC Department of Education is futile.
That goes without saying. But this latest DoE maneuver, affecting Samuel Mills Sprole School (PS 32) on Hoyt Street, is particularly bizarre.
During the Presidents Week, when the school was closed (and empty) for winter break, Deborah Ann Florio, the principal of PS 32, received a call from NYC Department of Education officials. A delegation wanted to tour the school.
DoE is intending to move the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School from its home in Sunset Park to the portable classrooms currently parked in PS 32's schoolyard. Ultimately, the charter school is supposed to occupy a brand new building being built at Douglass and Third Avenue in Gowanus.
Officials say that Brooklyn Prospect's temporary move to PS 32 will only be for one year.

However, teachers and parents at PS 32 say that the school can not accommodate the additional students without severely undermining the education of the children that are already there. The building currently houses an elementary school and a middle school. PS 32, the Pre-K to 5th grade school, has about 300 students and is part of the ASD Nest Program, a successful collaboration between N.Y. University and the DoE, that helps integrate autistic children into mainstream classes.
New Horizon Middle School (MS 442) has about 200 students.

Giving up extra classrooms to the 300 charter school children would mean that students already attending will lose their science room, the music room for their beloved keyboard instructions, as well as a planned improved library.
According to a staff member at PS 32:
We will have to relocate our 8 classrooms, a sensory gym, occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), and Speech rooms from the portable classrooms into the main building which we already share with MS442. Our art, music and science rooms will be used as classrooms. We will only have access to the gym 1 day and 2 hours. We spent over two years raising close to $700,000 to expand our library, which renovation will start in July 2011 and now we will have access to it for only 1 day a week. Most importantly, we have a very successful program for children with Asperger's Syndrome which can not properly function if we lose this space.

We have worked so hard at PS 32 and need help in stopping this from happening.

One has to wonder why the DoE feels it necessary to disrupt not only the lives of the charter school students with a temporary move before a more permanent one a year later, but also to take away educational opportunities for the children of PS 32 and New Horizon. Who is this benefiting? Certainly not the kids.

There will be a PTA meeting at PS 32 tonight at 6 PM to discuss this matter. The DoE will hold a public meeting in April. To read the entire DoE proposal click here

Related Reading:



Cynthia said...

First I want to say a big thank you to the principals of PS 32 and New Horizons and their custodial staff for opening the playground to the neighborhood children. It is much appreciated so I hope they read this blog post.
One thing that people often overlook is the strain that co-location places on shared staff such as nurses, custodians, cafeteria workers, psychologists, and social workers. This will also impact the lunch and recess schedules and how many Prospect Charter administrators will need to be accommodated with office space, computers, etc.?
Why does this school need to be relocated? It is currently located in the brand new state of the art Sunset Park High School building is there no room there as that school adds grades or what? Are there delays in the construction of the Prospect Charter building?
I'm no expert but I would think that this change in routine could set the children with autism back.
The timing of this seems rather abrupt especially if there is a PEP vote scheduled for April 6th. I think there should be a public hearing before that. With the exception of one, the PEP has no credibility whatsoever and once something is announced it is pretty much a done deal with no regard to the overall well being of the children already attending a school.

Katia said...

I agree. This seems like a lot of moving and turmoil in ALL the children's lives. PS 32 has certainly grown into a great neighborhood school, without the resources or vocal PTA of a PS 29 or PS 58. Their achievements are thanks to the school's dedicated staff. This co-location would undo so much of their wonderful work.

Lisanne McTernan said...

PLEASE CUT AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING EMAIL which is tailored to fit to the word length requirements at the Mayor's office. Email addresses provided below to Kathy Black and Councilman Brad Lander.

WE NEED TO FLOOD THEIR INBOXES with the concerned message below.

I want to call to your attention to the plight of a special program.

In 2003, PS 32 was the first school to host the Nest program, which places autistic children in classrooms with other children. Since then, this milestone program has expanded to more than 20 schools citywide. It works.

Now that program is being threatened by city plans to embed a charter school in the building, thus disrupting the nesting plan that depends on space & special attention. What is more, the proposed change would be a major disruption for autistic kids who who can be unusually distressed by changes to routine.

Autistic children and their parents have been well served by PS 32 and they really do deserve and NEED the continued support of the Mayor's office to hold on to this program that they have counted on.


Mayor Bloomberg:

Chancellor Black: http://schools.nyc.gov/ContactDOE/ChancellorMessage.htm

Councilman Brad Lander