Organizers call on NYC Department of Education to commit to build dedicated middle school at the Atlantic Yards site
BROOKLYN, NY, September 16, 2015: Organizers behind the M.S. OneBrooklyn vision for a middle school to occupy space being built for the Department of Education at the Atlantic Yards site today announced that more than 1,000 people had signed an online petition joining their call. The groups said that elected officials Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery have joined a chorus of local representatives praising the M.S. OneBrooklyn vision, which has also received support from additional institutions in writing and language arts.
In letters to David Goldsmith, president of Community Education Council 13, and Sharon Wedderburn, Chair of the Education Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 8, Borough President Eric Adams wrote, “I welcome the opportunity to join with parents, community organizations, and the Department of Education to make the rich cultural resources of this borough accessible to students of District 13 and beyond. I am glad to support a vision for a school that includes a strong STEM curriculum so all students can begin to acquire the skills that will bring them equitable access to jobs and career pathways in the economy of the future. Finally, I am delighted the M.S. OneBrooklyn vision includes dual-language studies to extend programs that currently serve primary school students in District 13.”
The M.S. OneBrooklyn vision has continued to attract endorsements from arts and education organizations since its announcement in July 2015. Aaron Zimmerman, Executive Director of the New York Writers Coalition, said, “As an arts institution serving Brooklyn and New York City, we are pleased to support the M.S. OneBrooklyn community vision for a new public school to be created with the Pacific Park/Atlantic Yards Development. By offering students exposure to our unique and powerful creative writing workshops, we look forward to developing a new generation of writers, readers and critical thinkers.” Speaking in support of the M.S. OneBrooklyn vision for middle school dual-language education, Dr. Fabrice Jaumont, Education Attaché with the French Embassy’s office in New York City, said, “Expanding French dual-language education in Brooklyn’s District 13 into a middle school curriculum will help students to achieve a fluency they will hold their entire lives.”
M.S. OneBrooklyn organizers also noted the vision’s alignment with Mayor de Blasio’s recently-announced plan to offer computer science education to all of the City’s students within ten years. Rob Underwood, a member of Community Education Council 13 and lead organizer of the Code Brooklyn campaign, said, “M.S. OneBrooklyn, with its focus on developing cutting edge skills such as software engineering, and with the support of leading organizations such as CSNYC, will be a cornerstone in District 13 to the Mayor’s vision for ‘equity and excellence’ for all New York public schools, including and especially girls and students of color.”
The M.S. OneBrooklyn online petition can be accessed through a link on the web site www.msonebrooklyn.com. Comments left by the more than 1,000 individuals signing the petition illustrate the depth of the need for a dedicated middle school in District 13, where none currently exist. Wrote one parent, “My family, and many others I know, have left the public school system due to a lack of desirable middle school options in Prospect Heights.” Others commented on the pattern of small middle schools co-located with primary schools in the district, writing “Schools, including charter schools and middle schools, that push into already an already existing elementary school do nothing but undermine that school. Middle school students need their own facility,” and, “I believe that a dedicated middle school is much better for children than one combined with an elementary school or a high school.”
Maggie Spillane, a parent at P.S. 9 and member of Community Education Council 13, said, “DOE’s long-term capacity projections may show similar need for primary and intermediate school seats in twenty years, but today there are already four public elementary school buildings within walking distance of the Atlantic Yards site that have available capacity for many hundreds of new local students. The best and most reasonable use for the facility being planned is to address the current lack of a full-size standalone middle school in District 13, especially one like M.S. OneBrooklyn that would be capable of providing educational continuity to the diverse students of this District.”
“It’s time the Department of Education listen to the voices of local parents, community organizations and elected officials, who have united in calling for a dedicated intermediate school at the Atlantic Yards development accessible to all public school students in District 13,” said Gib Veconi, chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “Only by planning for this use now, while the design of the building is in process, will students be assured a middle school equipped with facilities optimal for these years of their education–a type of school that doesn’t now exist in this district.”
“I am in full and enthusiastic agreement with Community Board 8 and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council about the need for a quality dedicated middle school at the B15 site of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park development,” said State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, whose 25th State Senate district includes the site of the proposed school, adding, ”I am delighted to see so many of our neighbors share our vision!”
The New York City Council will vote on approval of the proposed site for a new school at the Atlantic Yards project on Thursday, September 17 at 1:30PM at City Hall.
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About M.S. OneBrooklyn: M.S. OneBrooklyn is an initiative by Brooklyn Community Board 8, Community Education Council 13, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, and the P.S. 9 PTO to address the lack of a dedicated intermediate school for public school students in District 13. The M.S. OneBrooklyn vision is for a learning environment that prioritizes academic excellence and recognizes the potential of every child to achieve. M.S. OneBrooklyn will preserve and extend the diversity of students that exists in and across our District 13 public schools, and will offer a curriculum emphasizing arts, STEM and dual language studies. More information is available at www.msonebrooklyn.com.