Rezoning rescinded!

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The city has killed a controversial elementary school re-zoning plan that some parents feared would force their kids to travel too far to get to class.

The plan, which was designed to prevent overcrowding in a number of southern Brooklyn schools, came under fire last month when parents living about seven blocks away from PS 97, on Stillwell Avenue between Avenue S and Highlawn Avenue, complained about having to send their kids 12 blocks to PS 215, on Avenue S. between East Second and East Third streets. That trek, they claimed, would have them cross many busy intersections, including McDonald Avenue.

The backlash was enough to make city officials change their minds.

“We’d rather not force a plan that not everyone is comfortable with,” said Jeanie Baik, the Director of Enrollment Planning for the Department of Education, at the Jan. 5 District 21 Community Education Council meeting where she broke the news.

The city says it will now come up with a modified plan for the 2012-13 school year, a move that was cheered by parents.

“Re-doing the proposal is the smart thing to do,” said Christopher Lam, a PS 97 parent who had spoken out against the re-zoning at a Dec. 15 public hearing.

But maintaining the zoning status quo for another year comes with a price, Baik said. According to city figures, both PS 97 and PS 101 are overcrowded, and PS 101 had to turn away zoned students for the past three years — forcing the city to bus students to schools outside their district.

“The rationale behind the zoning proposal was to alleviate this over-enrollment,” Baik said. “Without it, there may be capping issues and kids could get sent to a different school farther away.”

Updated 3:18 pm, October 19, 2011
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