Fixing Morris Park’s middle school shortage is right in its own back yard.
But that’s only if the city Department of Education is willing to listen, parents and community organizers say.
They want the DOE to turn a new local elementary school, slated to open in 2013, into a middle school.
Students have been forced into a lottery to get into the one favored local middle school, P.S./M.S. 498, Van Nest Academy.
The new P.S. 292, being built at the site of the former Young Israel of Pelham Parkway at Lydig and Barnes avenues, will ease overcrowding at neighboring P.S. 105.
With 1,500 pupils, P.S. 105 is bursting at the seams, say parents, with some classes in portable classrooms set up outside.
But Al D’Angelo, head of the Morris Park Community Association, believes flipping the upcoming school is a win-win for all sides.
His proposal would eliminate the K-5 plan at the new school and move P.S. 105’s fifth graders into what would become a middle school, easing congestion at P.S. 105.
“That would alleviate [P.S. 105] children from going to P.S. 498,” said D’Angelo.
He also suggests converting the now defunct St. Dominic’s Catholic School into an annex for P.S. 105.
D’Angelo believes the Van Nest Academy at Bronxdale Avenue would easily accommodate P.S. 108 kids.
D’Angelo charged the DOE welched on its word to give P.S. 105 and 108 kids priority into the Van Nest Academy. The DOE maintains it has done that.
The move has outraged parents, scrambling to keep their children within walking distance of local middle schools.
“Ten and 11-year-olds are taken out of a safe environment and thrust into a world they’re not comfortable with,” said D’Angelo.
“It wouldn’t solve the problem this year, but next year,” said Debbie Tinelli, a critic of the school lottery.
Citing a “high need of elementary school seats,” a DOE spokesman said it has no plans to turn the 400-student Lydig Avenue school into a middle school.
They also noted there are more middle schools in District 11 than elementary schools, though the DOE previously admitted to a lack of middle schools in Morris Park.
The doors at the new elementary school will initially open to two kindergarten and two first grade classes, with additional grades added each year until it reaches fifth grade.
“How does that make sense?” sputtered D’Angelo. “Why doesn’t the DOE decide to sit with intelligent people and figure out what’s best for the community?”
To reach David Cruz, reporter for the Bronx Times Reporter, call (718) 742-3383 or email him at email@example.com.David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383