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Park Slope Residents Upset Over Rezoning Plan

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They say you get what you pay for, but dozens of families in Brooklyn say they paid plenty to move into a neighborhood with a desirable school for their kids and worry they're about to get frozen out of the district by a new rezoning plan. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

PS 321 in Park Slope is one of the most sought after elementary schools in Brooklyn's District 15. It drives real estate values in the neighborhood as families pay big bucks to have their kids live in the school's zone.

"I have three small boys," said resident David Summers. "The oldest one is going to be eligible for kindergarten next year so we're right on the cusp of being part of 321. We literally looked for three years in the school district in that zone and just bought a place in August."

But a new city rezoning proposal would make dozens of families ineligible for the school, zoning them for new ones instead.

"321 has actually gotten more overcrowded faster than I think anybody saw coming," said City Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn. "We knew this was gonna be down the road but this year's kindergarten numbers made clear how big the problem is. And then you have to have a solution in place before the end of the year."

The New York City Department of Education's solution is to take the existing zone for PS 321 and shrink it, eliminating areas west of Fifth Avenue and a strip south of Fourth Street. At a town hall meeting on education Monday night, families spoke out against the plan that rezones four of the area's schools.

"Our respectful request to you is to leave us out of it," said one resident.

"The proposal seems to be very disruptive to the community," said another.

"I think the proposal is completely ineffective," said a third. "It takes out much too small of an area of the PS 321 zone to make any difference at all."

DOE officials say something needs to be done because existing schools in the area are maxing out.

"What we see happening next year and the following year at these schools is the need to start capping and overflowing students," said Carrie Marlin of the Department of Education. "This is something we want to prevent."

The local Community Education Council has the final say. It votes on the rezoning proposal at the end of November.

"You don't necessarily decide entire zones in perpetuity," said Jim Devor, the president of CEC District 15. "It's unfortunate but it's true."

If the plan is approved, the DOE says the rezoning would take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.

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