09/23/15 2:09pm


While proposed changes in school zoning to alleviate the overcrowding of P.S. 8 is happening, a new private school option for parents is Sage Heights. They are holding a set of open houses for its new progressive private school. Coming to Brooklyn Heights in the fall of 2016, the school offers the unique Harvard approach of Mind Brain Education.

Parents who have children reaching the age of 2 or higher have an opportunity to learn about Sage Heights coming to Brooklyn fall of 2016 at one of their open houses. To RSVP, go to sageheights.com/vip-access

From Sage Heights:

Did you know?

  • Acceptance rates at local private schools are <10%. (St. Ann’s stops counting requests for Kindergarten interviews at 300 for 30 spots)
  • If you are not affiliated with a school by the time your child is 2 you are late to the game. Siblings fill all most all of the 2’s program at The Plymouth Church School. Last year Packer had one male rising Kindergartener who did not start in their Pre-K program.
  • If you are not a legacy, or have a child already enrolled, or if you have not contributed charitably you are less likely to be accepted at the local prestigious private schools
  • So far District 13 (public schools zoned for Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO/Vinegar Hill/Ft. Greene/Downtown Brooklyn) needs ~3000 seats for additional students by 2020 and the city is only prepared to build ~1000

Secure your spot as the Sage Heights Open Houses fill up quickly. RSVP

Why you should attend:

  • You are a parent getting your head around the schools in the area, frustrated by the application process and changes in the district
  • You are interested in a progressive approach to education that focuses not only on high academic achievement but social and emotional development (MBE)
  • You are looking for an opportunity to become a Founding Family, receive the early-entry discounted tuition or secure a long-term spot in a school
  • You are simply exploring all the options for your child(ren) in Brooklyn


09/16/15 4:04pm


[UPDATE: DNAinfo’s update on the first of two townhall meetings quotes one community member at the meeting: “You’ve got a plan that only considers half of this community — and once again the half that’s not considered is the black half,” he said. “There’s issues of race and class that need to be figured out.”]

The Department of Education (DOE) released its rezoning proposal for District 13 (Brooklyn Heights, parts of Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO and Vinegar Hill) in response to overcrowding of the P.S. 8 school (Robert Fulton). The rezoning proposal will place students from Dumbo and Vinegar Hill in P.S. 307, with the geographic divider along the Brooklyn Bridge (see map above). If the change is approved, the DOE provides the following rationale:

  • Alleviate overcrowding at P.S. 8, a school that cannot accommodate all students in its zone.
  • Grow the P.S. 307 zone and enrollment to serve more students.
  • Plan for the future growth in the area by creating zone sizes more aligned to each school’s space.

During the 2014-2015 school year, there were 162 kindergarten enrollees at P.S. 8, but only 17 at P.S. 307. Under the plan, DOE projects that kindergarten enrollment at P.S. 8 would drop to the range of 120-130, while P.S. 307 would be in the range of 115-120. P.S. 8 enrollment is at 142 percent capacity with an enrollment of 870 students this year, according to the DOE. PS 307 has 423 kids enrolled. The DOE has eliminated 25 kindergarten seats at P.S. 8 for the upcoming school year. Any changes to the zone wouldn’t take effect until the 2016-17 school year.

The DOE is looking for public feedback on their draft proposal regarding the rezoning of P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights and P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill. District 13 Community Education Council (CEC) have scheduled two town halls. The mission of the Community Council of District 13 is to support District 13 families, children and the schools they attend.

Town hall meetings scheduled to gather feedback on the preliminary scenario include:

  • Wednesday, September 16, 6-7:30 pm: PS 307, 209 York St.
  • Monday, September 21, 6:30 – 8 pm: PS 8, 37 Hicks St.

DOE’s Office of District Planning (ODP) will provide a short presentation followed by a question and answer session. All currently enrolled students may remain in their school until graduation.

Following the town hall meetings, ODP will present the CEC and the public with an official proposal on Wednesday, September 30th, 6:30 pm at P.S. 307. The official proposal may contain revisions to the preliminary scenario presented on September 1, based on community feedback.

If you’re a resident of the area, you are encouraged to attend the town hall meetings or submit comments through the CEC’s website, the Office of District Planning (BrooklynZoning@schools.nyc.gov) or to the Community Superintendent (BFreeman6@schools.nyc.gov).

{Zoning Process – Overview, Timeline and FAQs, CEC13.org}
{Information about the PS 8 and PS 307 rezoning process released, Dumbo Parents}
{CEC & DOE To Hold Re-Zoning Town Hall Meetings, Brooklyn Heights Blog}
{Town halls planned on Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO school rezoning, Brooklyn Daily Eagle}
{NYC Department of Education – Office of District Planning Draft Scenario (PDF)}
{Have your say on PS 8, PS 307 school rezoning, Brooklyn Paper}

05/15/15 2:05pm

On Wednesday, there was a Community Engagement meeting with the NYC Department of Education to address the overcrowding of P.S. 8 school. The Department of Education cut a full kindergarten class from P.S. 8 to alleviate the overcrowding for the first time in its history. State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilmember Steve Levin and Assembly person Jo Anne Simon with the school PTA called the meeting at the Library of P.S. 287, 50 Navy Street in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge Parents provided a good recap of the meeting. According to the recap, DOE Chief Executive of Space Management Thomas Taratko “clarified that PS 8 never had the planning capacity for a 6th Kindergarten class and while the principal of the school had accommodated a 6th section during the last two years to allow all in-zone children to attend PS 8 the school has no capacity to continue to do so.”

Thomas Taratko insisted that the zone of PS 8 is too large and rezoning should have happened two years ago. “Rezoning is on the table and we are working on a rezoning proposal for the school year 2016/2017. We have a couple hundred available seats at PS 307 and PS 287.” A task force of parents, PTA members, school officials, elect officials, the DOE and the CEC will work on a rezoning proposal and solutions beyond the immediate rezoning. By November the rezoning committee of the CEC 13 could make their decision for next school year leaving more time for parents to plan accordingly.

School seat capacity PS8, PS307, PS287

Brooklyn Bridge Parents points out that with 1,841 new residential units coming to the PS 8 school zone between 2015 and 2019, the community needs to expect over 500 additional elementary-school-aged children. Rezoning will alleviate some unfilled seats in local schools at P.S. 307 and P.S. 287. However other solutions to accommodate all kids in the area will be needed.

new residential developments in PS8 school zone 2016

(Images courtesy brooklynbridgeparents.com)

05/08/15 5:25pm

Everyone is different. We say it all the time, but is it fully embraced by our schools, by us? When taught and nurtured according to their individuality, children are more engaged with the process of learning. Educational research has confirmed what many parents and teachers experience daily; each child is infinitely varied from the next and cookie cutter solutions do not meet their needs. Recognizing our inborn differences allows for children to develop their passions and strengths, while fostering challenges and aversions.

Jillian is an advanced 8 year old who doesn’t have to try very hard to get perfect marks at school, and tests above the average range on assessments like the ERB. She is often praised for her brightness and quickness. She is starting to avoid anything she thinks is too hard, because she fears the grown-ups might discover her secret. She believes, “If I can’t do this fast and easily, then I must be dumb,” keeping her from her own unique potential to learn and succeed.

Charlie is a 7 year old gregarious kid who excels at school, is athletic, and very popular. However, he recently retreated into himself, refusing to participate in activities he once loved, after his beloved grandmother passed away.

Annabeth is 6 and loves books, words, and games. She has great difficulty staying out of trouble. Lately, she’s been left off the birthday invitation lists of her classmates.

Henry is a 6 year old, well liked, quiet boy. He loves building intricate structures with blocks and avoids anything with letters or numbers.

All four students are typical and should be treated as such. We do not learn in synchronistic ways and sometimes life gets in the way. All can excel if the adults in their lives help to cultivate their challenges and support their gifts, while emphasizing the natural differences in all of us. We want schools to see our children for whom they are and respond to them as their lives unfold.

All children are learning machines and learning begins with the brain. Neuroscience tells us brains are unique and plastic. There are not two duplicate brains in the world, now or ever. While the basic structure of our brains are the same, at the molecular level differences can be detected that affect our ability to learn, even in identical twins. If all people are different from one another, it follows that instruction should be differentiated. Differentiated doesn’t mean easier, but rather creating high challenge and low risk. Additionally, the brain’s plasticity is happening all the time as we encounter the world. Our brains automatically rewire neural paths with each song sung, picture painted, soccer scuffle, or negative thought. Schools and parents can use this plasticity to their advantage by creating environments where they reinforce important skills and belief systems around learning. Days should be designed to develop proficiencies in reading, math and other content areas, but also and with equal emphasis on effort and perseverance strategies.

Here are some great resources:

  1. Making Classrooms Better: 50 Practical Applications of Mind, Brain, and Education Science by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinoza, Ph.D.
  2. Research Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning by Judy Willis, M.D.
  3. Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D.
  4. Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Frank
The Kirkman Academy

Elizabeth Frank is a member of the Dumbo and Vinegar Hill community. She is developing The Kirkman Academy, in Brooklyn, NY, where she will serve as the Head of School. She is founder of Abundant Learning, a Dumbo based learning center, offering tutoring and enriching classes taught by experts. She also serves as the President of The Vinegar Hill Community Garden.

05/01/15 6:09am


If you’ve been following the elementary school overcrowding situation at the local P.S. 8 school in Brooklyn Heights (where Dumbo residents are also zoned), you know that many parents of kindergarden classes are frustrated and worried that their children are wait listed. The Department of Education cut a full kindergarten class from P.S. 8 to alleviate the overcrowding for the first time in its history.

The school currently has six kindergarten classes with space for 150 students, will eliminate 25 seats in the 2015-16 school year — and there are currently 207 applications for kindergarten, according to parents and members of the PTA.

With the growing number of residents in the area, the schools have reached capacity and parents have asked local politicians and school administration to address longer term solutions in a Change.org petition.

Follow more news about P.S. 8 overcrowding:
DOE Cuts 25 Kindergarten Seats at Brooklyn Heights School

Here’s Why Your Brooklyn Heights 5 Year Old Might Be Turned Away From P.S. 8 This Fall, Brooklynheightsblog

Change.org petition