Van Nest, Wakefield to get new elementary schools

Van Nest, Wakefield to get new elementary schools
The former St. Dominic School at 1684 White Plains Road is set to be the site of a new public elementary school, P.S. 311, slated to open for the 2015-2016 school year.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

Two public elementary schools are slated to open next fall within District 11 in the northeast Bronx.

The schools, which will have about 356 seats each for kindergarten through fifth graders, will open in former Catholic school buildings that are being leased from the Archdiocese of New York.

The old St. Dominic school in Van Nest will be the home for P.S. 311 and the St. Anthony school building in Wakefield will house PS 314.

The goal of the two new schools is to alleviate overcrowding in nearby elementary schools, P.S./M.S. 83 in Morris Park and P.S. 16 in Wakefield, said Pamela Johnson, president of Community Education Council 11. The opening of P.S. 314 should allow for the removal of the portable classrooms currently used at P.S. 16.

Johnson said she’s glad to see the Department of Education addressing the issue of overcrowded schools in the district. The schools will begin with two classes of kindergartners in fall 2015, and will add a grade each year.

“I’m grateful they’re opening schools because we need K-5 seats” she said.

But the CEC is also concerned that there are not enough middle school seats in the district to accommodate the elementary school students, said Johnson.

The handful of middle schools in the district are overcrowded, she said, and the area needs more middle schools. Students from P.S. 16 will have the option to go M.S. 83 for 6th grade if the seats are available, said Johnson, but they may have to look elsewhere.

“In 5 years, where are these kids going to go?” said Johnson.

The DOE cannot open new middle schools in Archdiocese properties because the Catholic church does not allow for sex education in their buildings, she said.

The principal at P.S. 83, Brandon Muccino, is concerned that his seats will be filled with rising P.S. 83 students by the time P.S 16 students move up from 5th grade. He said his middle school grades are already more crowded than his elementary school classes.

At the CEC meeting on Tuesday, October 21, Muccino asked the council to consider making P.S. 16 a choice school instead of a zoned school, so parents in the neighborhood can choose to send their kids to his school, where they’ll be guaranteed a middle school seat.

“They’ll retain the right to come to 83, so they don’t have to worry about where they’re going to go for 6th grade,” he said about the idea.

At the meeting, a community member voiced concern that the proposed zoning did not properly encapsulate the neighborhood surrounding the St. Dominic school building.

The proposed zoning for the new school in Van Nest is drawn along the following streets: Van Nest Avenue northeast from the corner of East Tremont Avenue to White Plains Road, north to Morris Park Avenue, east to Matthews Avenue, south to Baker Avenue, west to Unionport Road, south to East Tremont Avenue back to Van Nest Avenue.

The CEC will vote on the zoning for both schools at their combined business/calendar meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18 at P.S. 83, 950 Rhinelander Avenue.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at jwill‌[email protected]‌cnglo‌

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