Today’s news:

Bronx adds 18 new schools

The Department of Education opened 18 new schools in the Bronx on Wednesday, September 9, to restrained applause.

In February and March, when the new schools were announced, some Bronx parents sounded an alarm. At I.S. 131 in Soundview, parents fretted that the addition of a new middle school academy would crowd the building and result in fights. At P.S. 160 in Co-op City, parents protested a charter school set to open in the building. At P.S. 169 in Baychester, parents shuddered at the thought of four-year olds at the intersection of Edison Avenue and Boston Road.

September is here and parents report smooth sailing at I.S. 131, P.S. 160 and P.S. 169.

I.S. 131 was home to three middle school academies and a pre-kindergarten contingent in 2008-2009. The pre-kindergartners returned to P.S. 100 on September 9 and the DOE opened the Soundview Academy for Culture and Scholarship at I.S. 131.

Soundview Academy is zoned for I.S. 174 in Clason Point. I.S. 131 parents worried that the Clason Point students would fight the Soundview students. September has been incident-free, though. Soundview Academy has its own door to the street, I.S. 131 parents association president Cindy Perez said. I.S. 131 principal Ed Leotta has helped students adjust to the addition.

“So far so good,” said I.S. 131 parents association vice-president Iris Palermo.

The Equality Charter School was intended to open in School District 12 – Claremont and Crotona. Instead, the DOE decided to open Equality at P.S. 160 in School District 11 – Co-op City, Williamsbridge, Baychester and Wakefield. That angered some parents, who argued that Equality would hog science and music rooms. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto asked the DOE not to mix P.S. 160 elementary students and Equality middle school students.

P.S. 160 parent Sebastian Ulanga is unhappy. P.S. 160 is crowded; there’s only one security guard at the building, Ulanga said. But Equality parent Mona Davids is thrilled. Her daughter graduated from P.S. 160 in June. SD11 Community Education Council president Monica Major praised the Equality.

“[The protest] has died down,” Davids said. “We’re pleased.”

More than 90 percent of Equality students hail from SD11; some 40 percent hail from Co-op City, principal Joanne Murphy said.

P.S. 169 parents asked for three crossing guards at Edison Avenue and Boston Road; there are two. Major has asked the Department of Transportation to install sidewalk barriers and a stoplight at the intersection.

P.S. 169 staff pass students to parents or guardians at the door. No students are allowed to be on the sidewalk unsupervised, principal Christine Vaughan said.

Five of the Bronx’s new schools are elementary schools, seven are middle schools and two are high schools. Two are in School District 8 – Soundview, Castle Hill and Throggs Neck, four are in School District 9 – Morris Heights and Mount Eden, two are in School District 10 – Riverdale, Bedford Park and Norwood, three are in SD11 and three are in SD12.

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