Today’s news:

P.S. 69 divided

A change in P.S. 69’s zoning lines may decrease diversity at the school, P.S. 69’s principal says.

The city Department of Education’s (DOE) proposed zoning changes, which are intended to alleviate overcrowding at P.S. 69 at 6302 Ninth Avenue, would end P.S. 69’s practice of accepting students between Second Avenue and Sixth Avenue.

“That divides a bit along ethnic lines,” said P.S. 69’s principal, Jaynemarie Capetanakis. “That takes away a lot of Hispanic and Arabic families.”

“We are going to lose diversity in our population,” said Lisa Fung-Fernandes, a technology teacher.

“I appreciate the fact that you have heard our plea that P.S. 69 is overcrowded,” she told DOE officials at a School District 20 Community Education Council (CEC) meeting. However, “I have concerns.”

P.S. 69 currently has a large zone from Second Avenue to 12th Avenue, meaning that children residing within the designated area have a right to attend the school. By decreasing the zone, DOE officials believe they will alleviate overcrowding at P.S. 69, which is currently at 145 percent utilization.

Fewer students at P.S. 69 would also mean less funding for the school, a prospect Capetanakis doesn’t find appealing.

“Enrollment is tied to our budgeting and our staffing needs,” she said.

“If our school is going to be divided, will our funding be in place for art, music and computers?” Fung-Fernandes wondered. “Will those rooms be there?”

Fewer students might also mean fewer teachers.

“We fear we’re not going to have our jobs anymore if kids are removed from our zone,” said Fung-Fernandes.

“The teachers here are very close-knit. We’re very worried that we are going to be torn apart,” said third-grade teacher Diana Girgenti.

District 20 Community Superintendent Karina Constantino advised, “You can’t have it both ways.”

“Revenue is lost because schools are made appropriately designed for the number of children that they can realistically and appropriately accommodate,” she said.

Constantino said there will be teaching opportunities in District 20.

“We have five new buildings coming on board in District 20 in the coming years. That is a gift to alleviate the extreme overcrowding,” she said.

District 20’s CEC will vote on the proposed zoning changes at its December 9th meeting at P.S./I.S. 104, 9115 Fifth Avenue, at 7 p.m. After that, the DOE will conduct a final review of the changes.

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