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Principal William Frackelton is eager to serve the families of southern Soundview. Trouble is, the families of northern Soundview may resent it.

Frackleton’s new middle school, the Soundview Academy for Culture and Scholarship, will enroll 100 sixth graders in September. Children who live near IS 174 will have priority. IS 174’s two math academies are jammed.

Soundview Academy will share JHS 131 with three existing academies. Frackleton’s goals include a mentor program, an after-school arts and athletics program, and a middle school International Baccalaureate program – the borough’s first.

“I have a lot to learn about the local culture of Soundview,” Frackelton said. “But I will highlight that culture. My students will be scholarly, and true culturally.”

Soundview Academy will serve 300 students by 2011. A handful of kindergarten classes will move from JHS 131 back to PS 100.

JHS 131 parent association president Maria Torres is distraught. On February 26, during parent-teacher conferences, Torres circulated a petition to oppose the Department of Education’s space-sharing plan.

“More than half the parents are against it,” Torres said. “We already have three academies here – 930 students. We already have security issues. Adding another school, children from another zone, will cause problems.”

According to Torres and other parents, JHS 131 is crowded. Students at the school eat in waves; some have lunch at 10:30 a.m., others at 1:30 p.m.

“I eat fifth period,” said Susan Hawkins, a JHS 131 sixth grader. “The lunchroom is packed.”

Torres worries that Frackleton’s kids will clash with students zoned for JHS 131. Different street gangs operate near IS 174, she said.

Frackelton will meet with JHS principal Ed Leotta soon. He thinks Leotta’s three academies and Soundview Academy could found a joint student government.

Frackelton also hopes to establish a sense of student ownership. To that end, each Soundview Academy student will meet with a mentor from New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. The mentors will act like uncles and aunts, responsible for students’ overall development.

School District 8 Community Education Council vice president Norma Cruz was critical of the new school.

“This principal seems like a good person, but DOE should have left JHS 131 alone,” Cruz said. “JHS 131 is stable. Why bring in another school, another principal.”

Goldesboro was equally glum.

“It’s a done deal and a bad deal,” she said. “DOE never asked us. They don’t give a damn.”

Updated 5:24 pm, October 21, 2011
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