Yesterday, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and a glittering lineup of civic and state luminaries traipsed over to Brooklyn Heights' rejuvenated elementary school, PS 8, to announce the construction of a new school annex, to be completed in 2011. Overcrowding has been a worry during the school's resurgence, although the most recent data available show the school isn't bursting at the seams -- yet. The school has grown from 62% capacity in 2004 to 85% in 2006.
The school's welcome revival has been the driving force behind increasing demand for seats; Chancellor Klein, quoted on WNYC, said that the new construction shows that the DOE is responsive to neighborhoods, not districts. (We'd like to see him try that logic with parents of high-school students who no longer have zoned, neighborhood high schools to attend.)
The Heights, long one of Brooklyn's best-heeled bedroom communities, proved quite the draw on a sultry summer afternoon. According to the DOE, "Chancellor Klein was joined by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, Chief Family Engagement Officer Martine Guerrier, S[chool] C[onstruction] A[uthority] President Sharon Greenberger, Department of City Planning Director Purnima Kapur, PS 8 Principal Seth Phillips, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Councilman David Yassky, State Assemblywoman Joan Millman, State Senator Martin Connor, PTA co-President Tim Eldridge, Superintendent James Machen, PS 8 Assistant Principal Robert Mikos, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Joe Chan, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Deputy Director Nancy Webster, and Community Education Council representatives for School District 13." Whew.
Nearly everyone took a turn at the mic: Klein, Walcott, Grimm, Greenberger, Guerrier, Phillips, Eldridge, Millman, Yassky, and Markowitz all contributed remarks.
Unfortunately, the building boomlet in Brooklyn Heights doesn't include the development of new middle schools. Klein has stated that middle schools are his priority for the balance of the Mayor's term; as summer melts into fall, the time is growing short to prove it.