Episode 4

A School Of Our Own

In Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, our public schools are overcrowded. Lack of space, a mostly residential building stock, and little turnover… it has made the district a difficult place to build a school. There is hope, however. Our new City Councilperson-elect, Justin Brannan, campaigned on a single promise: to construct a new school in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights within his first term. Can it be done?

In our newest studio episode, we dig deep into the weeds of educational policy and school construction with some guidance from our newest Radio Free Bay Ridge team member, Erik Shell. With Erik’s help, we’ll look at the demographics data that reinforces our need for a new school, counter some myths and raise some warning flags about co-location and charter schools claiming they can solve overcrowding, and discuss our most pressing and time-sensitive issue: finding space for the school. We are also joined in the studio by our City Councilperson-elect, Justin Brannan, who will give us a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s advocating for a new school and how he intends to keep his promise for a new school within four years.

Justin Brannan, Rachel and Dan pose in the studio while discussing how to build a new school in Bay Ridge.
Justin Brannan, in the house! (Well, studio.)

News Updates

  • Concerned about Net Neutrality? Congress still has the power to reverse this FCC rules change. Call Rep. Donovan and ask him to fight for a vote on legislation complimentary to the vote Sen. Schumer is proposing for the Senate.

Show Notes

The Demographics

  • We discuss children’s’ safety in Episode 01: All Eyes on the Streets of Bay Ridge. Take a listen here.
  • Our recordings of Justin Brannan at the beginning of the episode are from the City Council debates at Xaverian. In fact, we recorded the entire thing if you’d like to go back and listen!
  • Erik read an excerpt on the process of school construction from this text on schools.nyc.gov
  • You can take a peek at the underutilization report for NYC schools for 2016-2017. However, the main takeaway is this: there is not a single underutilized school in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights.

Colocation and Charter Schools

  • You can watch the entire clip of Cilia Green talking about the attempted expansion at Susan S. McKinney for the benefit of Success Academy at the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) meeting from February 2017, hosted at LearnDoE.org. Furthermore, you can check out this report on a co-location that took place with little notice in Fort Greene.
  • We played audio from a Youtube video made by local teens in conjunction WNYC’s Radio Rookies program, which focused on concerns about co-location in their schools. You can view the entire video here.

The Politics

  • Eminent domain was used to seize the four lots where P.S.S 746 is now being built, in Sunset Park (still in District 20 for schools, but just outside City Council district 43)
  • Erik mentions the small number of upcoming school proposals. If you’ve ever driven down 4th ave you might be familiar with the future PS 557, though. It’s the beautiful old castle-like brick building on the corner of 43rd street. It can be preserved as part of the school construction… but it is very likely to slow down the process. If we want to renovate a historic building to be a new school in Bay Ridge then anticipate a long wait.

Justin’s Interview

  • Justin is a former deputy director of the DOE’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. That’s helpful for us since the IGA focuses on coordinating with other city agencies to help get education initiatives underway faster.
  • WhatIsMySchoolOwed.com can show you what the State owes your school in funds. For example, the new PS/IS 30 is already owed over a million dollars.
  • Feel free to visit the NY School Construction Authority (SCA) website
  • We spend some time discussing Magnet School programs and possible focuses for the new school. You can read more about the Magnet Program and effects on school desegregation in this 1999 article Magnet Schools and Other Means of Desegregation, hosted by Stanford.
  • The 77th street site Justin mentions as a possible school location: 

Closing Segment and Site Ideas for a New School in Bay Ridge

  • Rachel mentions constructing a marine-science middle school near the 69th street pier. Her idea isn’t without precedent because there is an existing New York Harbor School located on Governors Island. It is a charter school run by The Urban Assembly in partnership with multiple other non-profits. Maybe it’s time to have a public school focus on these issues as well?
  • Dan mentions “decking over” the Verrazano Bridge highway approach. This is a long-term way of freeing up space for a new school in Bay Ridge. It might also mean much more open space. In case you’d like to learn more, you can learn about covering the highways (and other ideas) at the FourthPlan.org
  • You can read more about the sale of the block-sized Angel Guardian Home over at the Brooklyn Courier. For the latest updates, your best bet is to follow our awesome local reporter Julianne McShane over on Twitter.

Additional Reading


Leave a Reply