A City Council committee hearing Tuesday will consider whether the Department of Education should put a moratorium on school closings and co-locations, which could impact a plan to add a third school to one already housing two others in Bushwick. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The sign says welcome to PS 196. But the Bushwick school building is also home to middle school 582. And it soon may be the site of a third school . The Department of Education wants to co-locate another middle school into the space.
"It's going to be a mess. Because it's hard with two schools in here. And the schedules are very hard, so imagine with three schools," said Maria Brunson, a parent.
"My concern is a safety issue with having so many kids within an elementary school," said Jessica Rosa, a parent.
Right now the elementary school uses the second and third floors and half of the fourth. The middle school uses the other half of the fourth and the entire fifth floor. MS 582 started sharing the building 10 years ago. Parents say forcing in even more kids will eliminate spaces used for computer and art rooms.
"Children should have art. They shouldn't just come to school and sit in one space all day long and not be able to move from one point to the other," said Michelle Russell, a parent.
The DOE says the building is underutilized. It currently has about 650 students. The DOE says it could fit more than a thousand. But the staff there says the city's math is wrong.
"The office of assessment can say that a room can hold 35 students often that's not the case which they well know if there's a certain special education class, we're mandated to only have 12," said Robert Burstein, a teacher at the school.
Community leaders say the DOE needs to stop and listen to the parents and teachers.
"The Department of Education should retract this co-location of a third school, a middle school in this school building," said City Councilwoman Diana Reyna.
"Let's look for a another space. We have enough space in the district to have a second middle school put in. But not in the same building. You don't have to overcrowd one building at the expense of others," said Ramon Peguero, Community Education Council Member, District 14.
To try to stop the DOE's proposal, the community is now circulating this online petition at change.org.
A public hearing on the issue will be held at the school building on October 21.