Sunset Park Parents Disrupt SCA’s Board of Trustees Meeting to Demand New Schools

20161118_091202-1BROOKLYN, NY (November 18th, 2016) – On Friday morning, a group of Sunset Park parents entered a small conference room at 100 Gold Street where the quarterly meeting of the Board of Trustees of the School Construction Authority (SCA) was held. Holding signs in English, Chinese and Spanish, and to the bewildered eyes of trustees, their message was clear, “We need schools in Sunset Park, now!”

For over a year, members of the Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park (MSQSSP) campaign have been demanding that the SCA builds 3,500 new seats in the neighborhood. One obstacle that campaign members have ran into is the lack of transparency in the site selection process. While community members have sent the SCA lists of potential sites, the SCA has not been forthcoming with information about the reasons why some sites has been scratched off the list.

Earlier this month, on November 11th, Voces Ciudadanas, one of the founding organizations of the MSQSSP campaign, filed a request to review SCA records under the New York Freedom of Information Law. The FOIL request will allow community members to better understand the school siting process. “We need to make sure that SCA is accountable to the community. Our FOIL request and our presence at SCA meetings is one way to do that,” said Victoria Quiroz Becerra, director of Voces Ciudadanas.

For parents in Sunset Park, who have experienced school overcrowding for many years, the issue is an urgent one. As one of the parents at the meeting noted, “Overcrowding has been an issue in Sunset Park since I was a kid, so I went to this meeting to let SCA know that there is this urgency in our community and that they need to take action now.” Another parent present at the meeting said, “I hope our kids class size is reduced because right now the class size is too overcrowded. It is not good for our kids.”

After the board meeting, Lorraine Grillo, President and CEO of the SCA spoke to parents and agreed to a meeting and to release information about sites that have been rejected as potential sites for a school.

Javier Salamanca, one of the founders and organizers of the MSQSSP campaign noted after the meeting, “Our action let the SCA know that we are going to follow them wherever they go, that our group is not afraid to travel, is not afraid to speak our minds, that we’ll hold them accountable at every level.”

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Report on School Overcrowding in Sunset Park

(Ver versión en español abajo)

In May 2016, Voces Ciudadanas, along with members of the Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park campaign (MSQSSP) conducted a survey to better understand the impact that school overcrowding has on children and families. We also wanted to hear from parents their thoughts about potential solutions to the problem.

Over the course of a month, we visited schools, laundromats, parks, and walked the streets of  Sunset Park. We talked to parents and residents and collected over 300 surveys.

 

The stories that we heard were devastating. The top five issues mentioned by parents as a consequence of school overcrowding are:

  • A large portion of our children are in classes that exceed NY State standards;
  • A large portion of our children are not receiving individualized attention from teachers;
  • Children with special needs are particularly affected by school overcrowding and many are not receiving adequate attention or services;
  • Children are being sent to schools outside their neighborhood;
  • And, many schools have cut or reduced availability of afterschool and enrichment programs.

Issues Faced by Children in Overcrowded Schools

You can read our the full report here: Our Inconvenient Truth: The Overcrowded Schools of Sunset Park

At Voces Ciudadanas we see access to quality education as a right that all children have. Thus along with members of the Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park campaign we demand that:

  • The SCA creates at least 3,500 new seats by 2021;
  • The SCA does not delay the creation of new seats any further ;
  • The DOE commits additional funding to overcrowded schools in Sunset Park for afterschool programs and services for children with special needs;
  • Elected officials, the City and SCA consider the use of eminent domain as an alternative to siting new schools;
  • And, the SCA meaningfully engages the community in decisions regarding where to build new schools.

We invite all Sunset Park neighbors to learn more about the MSQSSP campaign and join us in this effort. You can follow the campaign at: Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park CampaignIssues Observed

 


 

En mayo del 2016, Voces Ciudadanas en colaboración con la campaña Haciendo Espacio para Escuelas de Calidad en Sunset Park (Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park campaign – MSQSSP) llevó a cabo una encuesta para poder entender mejor el impacto de la sobrepoblación en las escuelas en la educación de niños y niñas y sus familias. También queríamos escuchar de parte de padres y madres sobre las posibles soluciones al problema.

A lo largo de un mes, visitamos escuelas, parques, y caminamos las calles de Sunset Park, hablando con padres, madres y residentes. Colectamos más de 300 encuestas.

Las historias que escuchamos son devastadoras. Entre los cinco problemas más apremiantes relacionados con la sobrepoblación de los que hablaron padres y madres están:

  • Una gran proporción de nuestros niños y niñas está en salones que exceden los estándares del estado de Nueva York;
  • Una gran proporción de nuestros niños y niñas no recibe atención individualizada de parte de maestros y maestras;
  • Niños y niñas con necesidades especiales se ven particularmente afectados por la sobrepoblación y muchos de ellos no reciben ni atención ni servicios adecuados;
  • Niños y niñas son enviados a escuelas fuera del barrio;
  • Muchas escuelas están cortando o reduciendo sus programas después de la escuela y de enriquecimiento debido a la sobrepoblación.

Issues Faced by Children in Overcrowded Schools

Puede leer nuestro reporte completo aquí: You can read our the full report here: Our Inconvenient Truth: The Overcrowded Schools of Sunset Park. Muy pronto lo tendremos en español.

En Voces Ciudadanas pensamos que el acceso a una educación de calidad es un derecho que tienen todos los niños y niñas. Así que con los miembros de la campaña Haciendo Espacio para Escuelas de Calidad en Sunset Park (MSQSSP) demandamos que:

  • La SCA cree por lo menos 3,500 nuevos cupos para el 2021;
  • La SCA no retrase más la creación de nuevos cupos;
  • El DOE otorgue fondos adicionales a las escuelas sobrepobladas de Sunset Park para programas después de la escuela y servicios para niños y niñas con necesidades especiales;
  • Nuestros representantes electos, la Ciudad y la SCA consideren el uso de dominio eminente como alternativa para construir nuevas escuelas;
  • La SCA permita la participación efectiva de la comunidad en la toma de decisiones sobre dónde construir nuevas escuelas.

Invitamos a todos los y las vecinos de Sunset Park a aprender más sobre la campaña MSQSSP y a unirse a nuestro esfuerzo. Puedes seguir los avances de la campaña aquí: Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park Campaign

Community Survey on School Overcrowding

Members of the Make Space for Quality Schools in Sunset Park Campaign are conducting a community survey to learn from those directly affected by school overcrowding and to find solutions to the issue. This survey is an effort to ensure that the voices of Sunset Park residents are heard and taken into account when finding solutions to address school overcrowding.

You can help the campaign by taking the survey. The results of the survey will be presented at a community event on June 4th, 2016.

Take the survey by clicking HERE

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Town Hall meeting/Asamblea Comunitaria

On November 24th, 2015, Chancellor Fariña visited Sunset Park, Brooklyn. A group of neighbors and community organizations, including Voces Ciudadanas had been waiting for this moment. For several months, neighbors had been mobilizing and gathering signatures to demand the immediate construction of schools in the neighborhood.12194653_987215104673045_232949267428552311_o

Residents organize a petition drive to demand the immediate construction of schools.

At the town hall meeting, Sunset Park residents presented close to 2,000 signatures to Chancellor Fariña. Signs read: “Schools for Sunset Park Now,” “What’s the plan,” “Eminent domain now”. The voices of Sunset Park residents were loud and clear.


En 24 de noviembre del 2015, la canciller Fariña visitó Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Un grupo de vecinos/as y organizaciones comunitarias, incluyendo a Voces Ciudadanas habían estado esperando este momento; por varios meses los vecinos/as se habían movilizado para recabar firmas y demandar la construcción inmediata de escuelas en el barrio.

Durante la asamblea comunitaria, a la que asistieron cientos de vecinos/as de Sunset Park, se presentaron cerca de 2,000 firmas a la Canciller. Las pancartas leían, “Escuelas para Sunset Park, ahora” “¿Cuál es el plan?” Las voces de los vecinos y vecinas de Sunset Park se hicieron escuchar.

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Sunset Park residents make their voices heard.

 

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Hundreds of residents attend town hall meeting to demand immediate solution to school overcrowding

 


Press coverage:

Sunset Park Families Demand New Schools to Alleviate Overcrowding – WNYC

Parents Expected Grill Schools Chancellor on Overcrowding at Town Hall

 

Sign the petition /Firma la petición

You can help us build new schools in Sunset Park by signing our petition and telling Mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Fariña that our children have a right to quality education. Sign the Petition Here

Puedes ayudarnos a construir nuevas escuelas para Sunset Park firmando nuestra petición y diciendo al Alcalde DeBlasio y la Canciller Fariña que nuestros niños y niñas tienen derecho a una educación de calidad. Firma la petición aquí

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