Norwood’s public school students are set for a major shakeup.
Starting next fall, hundreds of students in the neighborhood will be rezoned within the heavily overcrowded Community Education Council District 10 to relieve overcrowding as a new school opens on Webster Avenue.
The public schools servicing the area now are so packed, that over 20 schools applied this year for grades to be “capped,” which has forced nearly 300 students to travel to schools out of their zone.
The Department of Education is hoping that its new proposed zones will help the schools become less squeezed for space. At a public hearing Thursday, Oct. 17, the area’s public school principals bemoaned gyms having to be turned into classrooms, hurried early-morning lunches and other chaos.
“It’s terrible for the students,” said P.S. 46 Principal Nelly Diaz.
The changes will take place for next year’s kindergarten class, and for all other new students entering into the system.
Current students won’t have to switch schools, said CEC 10 President Marvin Shelton. Siblings will also have priority to stay at the same schools.
The changes affect P.S 46, P.S 280, P.S 56, P.S 20, P.S 8 and P.S 54.
The biggest reduction comes for P.S 8, whose zone near the Grand Concourse has been dramatically reduced in the proposed new zones. Enrollment at P.S. 8 will go from 1,206 pupils to 905 to 915, according to a DOE report.
P.S 54 will also be reduced, but that school’s principal, Dr. Marybelle Ferreira, is worried that her zone will become too small. The proposed lines remove the northern part of her zone, above E. 195th St., where she said her most stable students are located. Those students will be sent to P.S 20 under the latest plan.
“I don’t know how it will affect our attendance rate,” she said at the public hearing. “ We already don’t have the numbers we need.”
P.S 54 already houses tens of students from other zones, according to DOE numbers. The proposed zone change does shift a densely populated southwest slice of P.S 46 into P.S 54, but that area is set up on a dangerous hill, she said.
“I grew up here, and no one wants to walk down that hill to go to school,” she said. “You are leaving us with the ones that cannot make it. This is not going to benefit us at all.”
The CEC, which is continuing to work on the new zones, will hold its next scheduled public meeting Nov. 21 at P.S/M.S 37 on W. 230th Street.
The deadline to set the new zones is January, when area parents will register their children for the following school year.