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Support The Basis Independent Brooklyn School in Red Hook

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BASIS Brooklyn Independent Schools proposes to build a state of the art school facility to be located at 556 Columbia Street in Red Hook Brooklyn (approx. 90,000 sq ft). 

It will:

•       Provide facilities such as an auditorium, theater and gym for use by local community during certain hours,

•       Provide local jobs during and after its construction,

•       Provide educational opportunities for some parents and a small number of scholarships for the local community.

This will not be a Charter School.  As a private, for-profit school, it will not be dependent on any tax-payer dollars.

When fully enrolled the Basis school expects up to 1,000 students.  It will provide these students with a world class education * (STEM-focused liberal arts curriculum – centered on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

*Judged world class based on assessments by the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).

The school will serve families in Red Hook, the wider borough of Brooklyn, and lower Manhattan. It will bring additional economic activity and needed regeneration to the Red Hook neighborhood and will become a fertile resource for the local area and New York city.

This new private school needs a champion, such as the Red Hook neighborhood, to support its desire: to outperform other private schools in Brooklyn at half the cost per student.  Any parent in New York will attest to the challenge of even being considered for a place in a decent school. Waiting list for the good pre-school and private schools in Brooklyn are oversubscribed; schools such as Packer, St. Ann’s, Brooklyn Heights Montessori, and Brooklyn Friends and so on.

We have an unprecedented demand for education in the boroughs; in my opinion the BSA should be discussing how to meet this increased demand. I believe they must build more schools or incentivize private entrepreneurs throughout Brooklyn and perhaps lower Manhattan.  They ought to be aiming high by supporting institutes of excellent; the kind of institutions such as The Basis project. http://basisindependentbrooklyn.com/curriculum 

Independent Basis Schools CEO Dr. Mark Reford presented at the Red Hook Civic Association January 30th where he and associates responded to complaints that Basis did not do enough to reach out to the Red Hook community.

Their response included the following…

“We have heard those same complaints. While we complied with, and in fact exceeded, city requirements for notifying the surrounding area of our plans in advance of a community board hearing, we now realize we should have gone further.  That is why we placed an open letter in the most recent issue of the Red Hook Star Revue explaining the project, and why we are making this presentation tonight to the Red Hook Civic Association. We continue to work with local businessman Humberto (HL) Lopes, who has invested in the school and who owns the property, and others to discuss the project with a broad cross-section of elected officials, residents and business owners in the neighborhood to explain the project and assure them of BASIS Independent Brooklyn’s commitment to become a valued addition to a vibrant and diverse neighborhood.”

How will the community benefit (aside from having access to BETTER EDUCATION for their children)?

“Yes. In addition to remediating soil conditions at the site, we have already hired a local firm that hires Red Hook residents as laborers and security personnel at the site. We will make the theater/auditorium and gym available after hours to community groups, and have committed to work with our neighbors on civic improvements. We will offer two kindergarten scholarships each year to Red Hook residents to give them the opportunity to take advantage of our world-class program. And we expect parents and staff members will patronize Red Hook businesses, spreading the benefits throughout the area.”

I believe with these commitments that Independent Basis Schools have outlined more than adequately meet the requirements that the community board 6 and local residents expect. Their commitment to improving the local area: Red Hook and wider borough of Brooklyn will have a multiplier effect in regeneration of the area not to mention the improved education of our children.

Further supporting evidence-

Two years ago there was the conversion of a handsome old brick warehouse on Imlay Street in Red Hook.  City permits indicate the conversion of the structure, which involved tearing down much of the existing building, was done in order to turn it into a Yeshiva “trade school.” the Yeshiva in question is called Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov, which has another location in Williamsburg.  There was little if any hullabaloo about scholarships or traffic studies before this school opened.  Across the street from this new school on Imlay and Pioneer street the bike lane is eliminated whereas a seamless bike pass exists up until the school and beyond it along the waterfront on Imlay.

This is not to say that the community board 6 does not have important advice regarding the impact of a new school in the neighborhood, but I would say that it does not provide this advice evenly to all new red hook schools and in this case regarding the Basis School Brooklyn where they first approved it, I agree with their first assessment.

Balancing the interests in Red Hook to take into account local residents

I believe that there is a substantial Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan young parent community that wants another educational option. Education ought to be accessible for all our residents, we all deserve the right to give our children the best chance to succeed.  I know that as a red hook resident with two young children that this school will be an important mouthpiece balancing the other more industrial interests in our neighborhood; or even what this plot might become if it doesn’t become a school.

We have already seen examples of this kind of action, against the Texas based conglomerate US Concrete when they attempted to put a cement plant next to Ikea. 

Impact on local traffic

In regards to the possible bus traffic that has been asked about and answered by the traffic study the school has commissioned.  It is my view if the Community Board 6 wanted to do something about congestion of busses in the neighborhood they should look to move school bus parking and maintenance lots from Van Brunt St. 

Some recent articles referencing the hardships of getting into a school or private school for young children in New York City.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/14/stuck-in-new-york-city-private-school-wait-list-hell.html

Born to Wait - For City Parents, a Waiting List for Nearly Everything

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/nyregion/for-new-york-city-parents-a-waiting-list-for-nearly-everything.html?_r=0

In summary and perhaps most importantly, it will be the firstlarge, flood-resistant building to be built in Red Hook after Sandy. It could be used as an emergency center for the community in the event of another storm.



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