School’s expansion makes the grade

Parents embrace plan to add classes to Kingsbridge elementary school

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Come next spring, there might not be any students graduating from P.S. 207 in Kingsbridge — and parents are happy about it.

P.S. 207 already teaches pre-kindergarten through second grade. But as early as next school year, there could be a third-grade class added. The year after that would be fourth grade, and then 2020, the school could top out with fifth grade.

Parents association president Yadira Peña said through a translator she was “happy” with the news. The plan was first discussed with parents during the school leadership team meeting last month that included the attendance of representatives from the education department as well as P.S. 207’s principal Tara O’Brien.

Hulla asked the parents for feedback on the proposal, wanting to address concerns they might have, Peña said.

For Peña and other P.S. 207 parents, this plan means not having to search for a new school for the third grade, and reducing the number of school transfers to just middle and high school.

Claudia Minero, another member of the parents association who attended the leadership meeting, also supported the plan. Her son is in first grade now and she wants him to remain there as long as possible.

A grade expansion at the Godwin Terrace school would help alleviate some of the overcrowding at neighboring institutions like P.S. 7 Milton Fein. Located a few blocks away on 3201 Kingsbridge Ave., P.S. 7 serves kindergarten through fifth grade.

Councilman Andrew Cohen said he supports the idea “subject to local objection, which I don’t think there is.” Based on the feedback his office has received on P.S. 207, parents are happy with the school and it would be good for them to have the option to stay, if that is what they wanted and the school is providing quality education. Additionally, the proposal could help alleviate some of the overcrowding at P.S. 7 where some P.S. 207 graduates eventually attend.

The proposal must first get the approval of the city’s educational policy panel, the governing body over the school administration group. Each borough president appoints a member to the panel joining eight selected by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The school chancellor serves as a non-voting member, according to the education department’s website.

One education department official, who was at the school leadership meeting along with other officials from the department and Hulla’s office, said the full proposal could be available to the public by the panel’s December meeting.
The maximum number of seats the school is expected to have is about 550. Details of the proposal are still being worked out.

There were just over 360 students enrolled at P.S. 207 in the 2015-16 school year, according to the state education department’s website, the most recent year data was available.

The proposed expansion marks a continued academic turnaround for P.S. 207, which last year was listed on the city’s “persistently dangerous” list following reports of widespread bullying.

Under O’Brien’s leadership — which began last school year — P.S. 207 is no longer on the list. In fact, it received the Ready School of the Year Award from the city’s emergency management office for its preparedness like having emergency supply bags, knowing emergency contact information, and exiting the building during a fire drill at the same time garnering widespread praise from parents.

For families, the decision boils down to keeping their children in a supportive environment longer and not having another transition period or additional school search for later grammar school grades.

“We don’t have to change the kids to another school and start a new process, and a new teacher or a new place,” said Mivalissa Rosario, who has both a son and nephew at P.S. 207. “If everything could stay here, that would be great.”

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