Hunger for grades

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Two Canarsie schools are seeking to expand.

P.S. 279, 1070 East 104th Street, is asking the city Department of Education (DOE) to deem it a pre-kindergarten to eighth grade school. The school now runs to grade five.

I.S. 211, 1001 East 100th Street, wants to offer grades six to 12. Currently, the school maintains middle school grades of six to eight.

The schools hope to boost enrollment as a result of the grade expansions. According to DOE data, both P.S. 279 and I.S. 211 are underutilized.

“The largest challenge facing [School] District 18 is declining enrollment and students leaving the district, particularly at the middle school level. Specifically, 38 percent of the district’s students travel out of district to attend middle school,” District 18 Community Superintendent Beverly Wilkins explained at a meeting of the local Community Education Council (CEC), which advocates for schools in Canarsie and East Flatbush.

“If the schools want to keep the children in their buildings, it’s good for the children because they don’t have to transfer, especially when you have an issue with our middle and elementary school students fleeing to other schools,” said James Dandridge, a member of District 18’s CEC.

The new School District 18 Planning Committee, which includes Wilkins and various officials from the DOE and School Construction Authority (SCA), is now discussing the possible grade reconfigurations.

“We’re really having conversations about what the needs of the district are,” said Wilkins.

The DOE will review the expansion proposals using five criteria — school quality, physical space, demographic need, impact on enrollment, and community input.

A full presentation about the requested grade reconfigurations is slated for the next meeting of District 18’s CEC.

Details about the requested grade expansions are located at

“Go on and read their proposals,” Wilkins encouraged. “Come back so we can have a conversation next month.”

The CEC will meet on October 5th at 7 p.m. at the District 18 office, 1106 East 95th Street. For more details, contact the council at 718-566-6037 or e-mail

The principals of P.S. 279 and I.S. 211 did not return calls for comment for this story.

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