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Parents oppose high school in Marine Park

Marine Park parents say they will oppose the opening of a high school in I.S. 278.

Parents of students attending Marine Park Junior High School, 1925 Stuart Street, are dissatisfied with the city Department of Education’s (DOE) plan to house a small high school in the middle school building.

Instead, they want I.S. 278, which now maintains grades six to eight, to expand to grade 12.

“We’re opposed to having dual housing of any other school in this school so, for sure, there’s going to be opposition,” said Dr. Mardie Sheiken, whose daughter attends the seventh grade at I.S. 278.

With a second school, “you have two separate administrations, you’re fighting for space, and there’s no one control over the entire building,” said Louise Quinlan, whose son is a seventh-grader at I.S. 278.

“What the community wants is a 6-12 school so that all of the children have the opportunity to stay in the neighborhood,” said Sheiken.

DOE officials are in the planning stages for the new high school. Department spokesperson Will Havemann told this paper, “Since the I.S. 278 community has indicated a preference that the unused space be used to serve high school students, we’ve proposed opening a new small high school in the building. We’re currently reviewing new school proposals, and will work with the local community to make sure we put the space to best use. Depending on the progress of the new school development process, the new high school would open either in 2010 or 2011.”

According to insiders, some, but not all, of I.S. 278’s students could attend the small high school, for which they’d be required to submit applications. Also, the small high school would maintain a separate principal and administration than I.S. 278, sources say.

“We don’t want two administrations,” Sheiken said. “We want it under the expert leadership of the current [I.S. 278] principal.”

However, the DOE has repeatedly insisted that a full grade expansion would be impossible due to insufficient available space in I.S. 278.

Havemann said, “While there is unused space in the school’s building, the building is not large enough for I.S. 278 to expand to serve grades 6-12 as a zoned middle and high school.”

But parents aren’t so sure.

“How is there enough room for what they want and not what the community wants?” Sheiken said.

Quinlan suggested freeing up space in I.S. 278 by decreasing the number of students in existing grades.

“If they were to simply rezone Marine Park, there would be room in the building to do the 6-12 because the kids would be going off to Shell Bank and Roy Mann. That would relieve some of the congestion we have here and make room for a 6-12,” Quinlan said. “It can work out.”

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