Slim Chance P.S.114 Will Be Saved From DOE Chopping Block
While the fate of Public School 114 remains uncertain for a few more weeks, the Department of Education seems to have been persuaded to reexamine the situation, which may result in giving the century-old elementary school another chance. After apparently being overwhelmed with an unusual amount of support from local politicians, parents, teachers and their union representatives, as well as current and former students, the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) has postponed the final verdict until March 1st.
DOE Deputy Press Secretary Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld last week issued a statement that read: We are delaying the consideration of the proposed phase out of P.S. 114 so we can take more time to analyze and respond to the public comments that we have received. After that analysis is complete, the Panel (for Education Policy) will discuss and vote on the proposal and the replacement school proposals.
When the Courier spoke with Zarin last week, he did not specify how much supporting correspondence the DOE had received, but noted that was enough to compel a reexamination of the unusual environment that led to the breakdown at P.S. 114.
After a packed, rowdy hearing on school closures was held two weeks ago at Brooklyn Technical High School, where new Schools Chancellor Cathie Black was taunted by angry dissenters, it was pretty much assumed the DOE’s December announcement to close 23 schools, including P.S. 114 on Remsen Avenue, was a done deal and just a matter of time, despite the large contingent that has protested the decision since it became public last December.
However, though 22 of the 23 schools previously slated to get the ax will still be affected, the Ryder Elementary School, which has educated Canarsie children since shortly after the start of the 20th century, is getting additional consideration due to the underlying factors and mismanagement of a previous administration that left the school in debt and educationally shortchanged. The PEP originally planned to close P.S. 114 earlier this month, but is reanalyzing the proposal and will announce its final decision in 12 days.
When City Councilman Lew Fidler heard about the DOE’s possible change of heart, he told the Courier, “I remain hopeful, not that we will be able to change DOE's policy about closing schools, but that DOE will recognize that this school should be an exception to that rule. I think it would say volumes of positive things if Chancellor
Black recognized the past mistakes that the agency she now runs made at PS 114 and said we will be accountable and responsible. I'd love the opportunity to work with DOE to turn this school back into the gem it has been in the past. On the other hand, turning us down would speak volumes as well. But, I'll stay optimistic and positive until circumstances indicate otherwise.”
Councilman Charles Barron, who has been at the forefront of opposition to schools in his district being closed, told the Courier this week, “The parents, teachers and people got a temporary reprieve when P.S. 114 was taken off of the DOE’s list of schools to be shut down. This is a clear admission by the DOE that they failed the school’s students and parents. We are meeting with parents, teachers, community leaders and other stakeholders to develop a two-year plan to bring academic excellence to P.S.114. The DOE owes us this opportunity and should supply us with the resources to be successful.
State Assemblyman Alan Maisel, one of the local elected officials fighting to keep P.S. 114 open, said on Monday, “Along with my colleagues, I’ve worked very hard on this matter, but I’m very pessimistic about the DOE listening to the stakeholders and complying with their requests.”