Letter to the School Construction Authority about the new school proposed for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

June 29, 2015 letter (pdf) to the School Construction Authority about the new school proposed for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park from the Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt.

We ask the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority to take the following steps:

  • Release a DOE plan to address the meaningful new demand for school seats added to our area by the Project and other area growth so our families are well and appropriately served in the future.  We also ask DOE to show us how unit projections are brought into its utilization and capacity projections for schools in our area. 
  • Conduct a rigorous program of community engagement to address location concerns and ensure the new school is successfully integrated into an area taxed by construction and Project operation now and in the future.  Consider other potential locations in the Project site across a range of priorities including potential opening date, transit access, pedestrian safety, classroom quality and open space.  

The Project’s environmental reviews in 2006, 2009/10, and 2014 all state additional mitigation measures such as shifting catchment areas within the Community School Districts, creating new satellite facilities in less crowded schools, or building new facilities off-site will be required to fully mitigate the Project’s significant adverse impacts on public schools.  Those options are now more difficult due to increased school utilization in the area near the project since 2006.  The local elementary schools within 1/2 mile of the Project’s second phase are already over capacity.  The significant adverse impact for elementary students will now emerge with the first residential building opened at the site.  We believe DOE’s past history shows it is in its own best interest to have a plan.  Moving children from place to place as capacity shortfalls increase and re-zonings ensue is not fair to families in our area.  Pockets of overcrowding are inequitable.  Our elementary school children shouldn’t have to travel distances to get to school.

Keep in mind the following: using DOE’s own capacity formulas, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will add 1,864.7 elementary students, 771.6 intermediate students, and 900.2 high school students for a total of 3,536.5 students by 2025. The total number of new seats in the current school proposal is 616, clearly insufficient to absorb the number of students being added.  The 2006 FEIS’s numbers are somewhat lower.  The FEIS anticipates 1,757 elementary, 667 intermediate, and 412 high school students for a total of 2,836.  Where are those students going to go to school?

The B15 location chosen for the school is a poor option.  In a departure from what is detailed in the Project agreements, it is likely to be delivered 5 buildings (1,500 units) after the significant adverse impact emerges.  Unique conditions at the site will deliver poorer and potentially less healthy classrooms, less safe pedestrian access, poorer open space, and unique community impacts including to other community facilities than other potential options. Our school children deserve the best quality classrooms and open space possible in the Project, but that is not what they are being offered in B15.

Thanks,

Peter Krashes, Secretary
Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt
917-699-2003

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