Community Board 7 held a hearing on the Beacon HS building space last night at the Goddard Riverside Community Center. For us this is a huge issue. There have been a lot of talks about possibly using the Beacon space as a relocation site for MMS/PS 191 or PS 199. CB7 presented this meeting as an opportunity for the public to speak out and give their opinions as to the use of the space and advise the DOE. There have been reports that this hearing is a ploy to have the space identified as a local district 3 school instead of a high school space, so that it would make the proposed redevelopment plan easier. We had grave concerns about this happening. Despite the successful appearance of this meeting, we still don’t know what will happen.
Mark Diller, Chair of CB7, kept his part short, a brief slide show of the interior of the space (which is grossly inadequate for an elementary school despite the fact that there would be capital funding to fix it up). Then he opened up to the floor. Over 3 dozen people got up to speak. The overwhelming majority of speakers wanted the space used for a Middle School or a High School or both. A few people asked for a special needs program for Autistic children, as there is none in district. The biggest point brought up is that our district is already overcrowded. The opening of PS 452 tried to alleviate some of that, but those children are moving up and will eventually need a middle school and then a high school. Numerous parents from PS 199 quoted the huge increase, 40%, in their 5th grade graduates in the last three years alone. PS 87 parents spoke. Their concerns mimic our own.
That was just one of the issues that kept popping up. Several were mentioned that also came up in the CEC 3 meeting the day before. Concerns about the lack of High Schools with preference for district 3 students are very strong. The concern of having enough quality Middle Schools was just as much brought up as the High School issue. Students, nor their parents, want to get their 5th choice school because there are just not enough seats to give more children their first choice.
Another point that kept coming up was families having to leave the community once their children reach middle school or High School because of the lack of options. Parents just don’t want to have to leave. Let’s be real here, that is not an option for many of the parents in our school. They need more seats for their children in this community.
There were attempts to expose this meeting as the ploy mentioned above, but I am afraid it seemed unsuccessful. But we still have a fighting chance…
Mark Diller invited people to email him their thoughts on the Beacon space before Wednesday, when they will finish their recommendation to the DOE. So let’s do it! I implore everyone to email CB7 and tell them what the Beacon space should be used for and not used for.
And well if the Beacon space is not used for a middle or high school after this, then we know that this was a farce and shame on CB7 and the DOE.
HOWEVER, IN YOUR NOTE TO MARK AND CB7, STRESS THAT THEY DO NOT NEED TO MAKE THIS DECISION UNTIL THE MATTER OF REDEVELOPMENT HAS BEEN DECIDED. THERE IS NO RUSH!