P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Terrific arts program, welcoming to all parents

The Downside

Class sizes can get large

Our Review

Once called "mini-Pakistan," this part of Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood is now a kaleidoscope of ethnicities and incomes, the happy outcome of a wide range of housing options in very close proximity. PS 217 sits at a jaunty angle, like a beloved landmark in a small town square, amidst gracious Victorian homes, plain brick co-ops and double-wide duplexes. Hair salons, laundromats, grocery stores and upscale eateries serve a polyglot community that works the entire spectrum of jobs and professions.

The school is large and peaceful, and offers an array of arts that allow kids to shine in many ways, whether it's singing the lead in the school musical, playing guitar or sewing a drawstring bag. Class size at PS 217 is largewe counted up to 29 in one of the upper gradesyet orderly and buzzing with cheerful and curious children.

The arts program is one of the school's finest features and culminates in dance and music festivals, a poetry slam, an art fair and theater performances. Although it is a school that serves many low-income families, it also attracts the children of business professionals who contribute money for the arts. Parents contribute talents by leading clubs on Friday afternoons such as filmmaking, gardening or Arabic. Kids meet in weekly arts clubs in grades 4 and 5 and several collaborate on two yearly theatrical productions such as an adaptation ofThe Odysseyor a production ofThe Little Mermaidin full costume.

Robert Bonilla became principal in 2016 when long-time leader Franca Conti retired. He has worked as a teacher or administrator in a wide range of settings, including a District 75 school for children with special needs, PS 165 on the Upper West Side, PS 463 in the South Bronx and PS 94 in Sunset Park.

PS 217 is a pioneer in mixing children who are learning English into general classrooms, with two teachers. "We're always kid-watching," said social worker Judy Brandwein. "We want to celebrate every child." This includes dental and eye screening, birthday celebrations and close attention to kids who are struggling academically.

In an effort to include more non-native English-speaking parents in classroom activities, the school has tapped parent leaders from each of the largest parent language groups, such as Russian, Arabic, Bengali and Spanish, to serve as translators. These leaders are available one morning a week for translation and to lead craft or learning activities.

The parent who coordinates the program has found that little changes make a big difference in parent involvement. For example, some parents were deterred by a "no strollers inside the building" rule, because they had to wake up their babies to go inside, so the school set out to change the rule. When a Nepali translator invited parents in on Friday mornings, she learned Nepali nail salon workers would miss out on their busiest day of the week, so she switched the day.

Under Bonilla's leaadership, and after a yearlong pilot, the staff adapted the Teachers College Reading and Writing approach. Teachers continue to use Go Math but have added multi-step word problems. Bonilla hired coaches to support the work in literacy, and brought in two teachers from a previous job to support the work in math, which took off like wildfire, he said by phone. Next is an upgrade in technology with money from politicians including new SMART boards and laptops. Not a single teacher left after his first year. I have a good staff, he said. It was a good year.

SPECIAL EDUCATION:Every grade has a team-teaching class that incorporates children with disabilities. There are two small mixed-age classes for children who need additional help.

ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. There are usually some spots for children outside the zone.An "Eagle" program for high-achievers is phasing out, starting with kindergarten in 2017-2018 and moving up the grades year by year. (Lydie Raschka, April 2016; updated, phone interview with principal, July 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
1193
Pre-K seats
54
Asian
51.7%
Black
10.7%
Hispanic
18.2%
White
17.0%
Other
2.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
100%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
26%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
123%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
95%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
14%
21% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
98%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
98%
88% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
12.0
6.6 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
92%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
91%
90% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
90%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
71%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
94%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
94%
89% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
90%
65% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
91%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
92%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
100%
98% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
100%
92% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
100%
97% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
48%
43% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
46%
42% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 5 dedicated spaces for Music, Theater, and Visual arts
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Urdu.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
8%
9% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
41%
46% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
2.04
2.0 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.38
2.4 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.83
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.22
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.07
2.2 Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
96%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
98%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
94%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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Location

1100 Newkirk Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11230
Flatbush (District 22)
Trains: B, Q to Newkirk Plaza
Buses: B103, B11, B49, B68, B8, BM1

Contact

Phone
718-434-6960
Principal
Robert Bonilla
Parent Coordinator
Liana Dubovici

Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.

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