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Brooklyn Residents, Community Board Fight New School

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) – In Brooklyn, a local community board is trying to nix the city’s plan for a new school in Kensington.

 If the Department of Education has its way, a block of Coney Island Avenue – with its abandoned lots and small businesses – would be the site of a brand new city elementary school. Some local residents and the community board, though, are opposed to the idea, reports CBS 2’s John Metaxas.

“They’re trying to shove something down the throats of the people who live in this neighborhood,” one resident said.

Their objection to the school stems from the possibility that the new school in their district may not be open to students from their district.

 “You have a school built in the district where the kids on that block may not go to that school,” community board member Yeruchim Silber said.

It’s all because of bureaucratic boundaries. Coney Island Avenue is the dividing line between two school districts.

 The problem, opponents of the plan say, is that the new school would be built on the west side of the avenue, within the confines of District 15. However, the school would serve students who live on the other side of the Avenue, in District 22.

Parent opposition in District 15, which also includes parts of Sunset Park and Park Slope, was so strong that the local community board voted almost unanimously last month to recommend cancellation of the project.

 They say their schools, like one forced to expand into trailers in the backyard, are already overcrowded.

“We need a school. Save it for District 15, not 22,” Silber said.

One parent of students in District 22 said her district needs a new school too.

“Come one, we’re talking about our future, we’re talking about the kids,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea. The districts should become friends.”

A Department of Education spokesman said the school is proposed in the best location possible, and that six new schools are planned for District 15 – just not the one on Coney Island Avenue.

Where weeds now sprout, it’s hoped that children will soon learn and play. The question, though, is whose children they will be.

The Department of Education is accepting comments until Friday before making a final decision on the site. Then, it’s up to the mayor and city council.

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