Students protest the DOE's plans before a March hearing (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

The plan to reform Sheepshead Bay High School using a “turnaround model” – which requires firing at least half the staff – has spurred condemnation from parents, teachers and students as we’ve previously reported.

It’s not a matter of whether the school needs work or not – most agree it does – but rather that the school was already enrolled in a reform process and had made great strides. Now the change in direction is wreaking havoc on the progress made, and teachers are losing faith in a system that has already pulled the rug out from under them.

Such undermining of teacher morale is setting any future reforms up for failure, one teacher told Gotham Schools:

Robin Kovat, social studies teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School

What changes have the School Improvement Grants brought to your school so far?

“Well, they instituted [the "restart" reform model], and we started it, and then they threw this wrench into our works, so the morale now is really going down because part of it involves a buy-in for the staff but nobody knows if they’re going to be here next year. I think dividing it into academies would really be wonderful if we keep the people here who can actually make a difference, who have been shown to make a difference, who have already made a difference.”

Gotham Schools has been asking a set of questions of teachers and students at some of the 26 high schools slated for closure. Here’s what another Sheepshead Bay High School teacher had to say about how the additional funds from reform have helped in the past year:

Alona Geller, English teacher and Cheerleading coach at Sheepshead Bay High School

What changes have the School Improvement Grants brought to your school so far?

“I started here when I was 22 years old. And I’ve been teaching for seven [years]. I think a lot of improvements have taken place. Any money granted to us is used for trips and programs and supplies, the kids have everything tha they need, and I know friends of mine in other schools don’t have those things.

This year in particular, we have City Year in the building, the ninth graders have a lot of support, and they’re thriving in away I haven’t seen before. City Year greets the kids at the door, they provide tutoring services, they’re in our classrooms, they follow the kids all day long and see what subjects they’re struggling with. They really keep up the morale for the students and for the teachers.”

Those funds will continue to flow while half the staff that have helped find the most efficient use for them will be dismissed if the turnaround model gets approved, as is widely expected.The Department of Education will decide whether to close the schools on April 26.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Of all the famous people who grew up in Sheepshead Bay, the one I’d like to interview most is Larry David.

Actor, writer, director and producer, the dour David is, alas, a hard man to pin down. He is notoriously averse to interviews.

Keep reading to find out what Larry David had to say about Sheepshead Bay.

THE BITE: I have to admit, I was not looking forward to this sandwich. It was a lousy day and I wasn’t craving anything. I just needed to put some food in my pie-hole. After cruising the streets of the ‘hood, I finally settled on Spiro’s Restaurant (2103 Avenue U). I looked over the menu for about 10 minutes before selecting a grilled chicken sandwich. What could go wrong with that?

Spiro’s Restaurant is one of Sheepshead Bay’s few remaining diners. Spiro’s seems a bit overlooked in the food industry of the Bay and that’s too bad.  While they don’t produce dazzling foods, the meals usually satisfy.

I got back to the Sheepshead Bites offices, opened the container and was presented with a very messy sandwich. Juices from the mushrooms and chicken had soaked through the bottom layer of the bun while the meat and toppings had also escaped its confines. Given my mood, I really didn’t expect much. Add the poor presentation and a high price tag of $10.70, this grilled chicken sandwich, topped with canned mushrooms and Swiss cheese served on a Kaiser roll, was doomed from the start.

The meal, however, turned out much better than I expected. Stuffed into the roll were five beautifully seasoned, perfectly grilled, tender and moist all white-meat chicken cutlets. These babies were marinated in typical Greek spices which included Greek oregano and possibly a little sage.

These seasonings turned what promised to be a very boring sandwich into a great lunch.

Spiro’s Restaurant, 2103 Avenue U,  (718) 891-9843

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Spiros Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Photo by Amy

… is what this place should have been called. If for no other reason than it’s fun to yell really loudly like it’s a late-night cable TV commercial.


My office-mates hate me right now.

Anyway, Jimmy’s Italian & Turkish Cuisine is now open at 3099 Emmons Avenue, replacing Ukranian restaurant Old Castle.

Photo by Michelle Selwa

Owners of the three-story development at 1810 Voorhies Avenue have wrapped up construction and are finalizing its roster of tenants, the building’s manager told Sheepshead Bites.

The building is so far slated to house a furniture store and doctor’s office on the first floor, and a day care on the second floor. The third floor is still in negotiations, with the day care potentially occupying that as well,  according to the manager, David Fernandez.

Community Board 15 voted in February 2011 to reject the building’s developer application to permit the reduction in required parking  for an ambulatory or diagnostic treatment facility. The board was urged on by Councilman Michael Nelson, who argued that a furniture store on Voorhies Avenue with no off-street docking area for trucks would lead to more congestion on the already nightmarish roadway.

The Board of Standards and Appeals, which has final say over the application, has not yet voted on the project.

As the warm weather kicks in, the NYPD’s 61st Precinct is launching a public awareness campaign about the illegality of certain vehicles which have become more prevalent in our community. The following is the text of a flier they are currently distributing:

In an effort to ensure the safety of the motorists and pedestrians of New York City, the NYPD would like to advise citizens of the rules and regulations related to specific motorized devices.

The following motorized devices cannot be registered within New York State and therefore these devices cannot be operated on the highways, public streets or sidewalks of New York State.

  • Motorized Scooters
  • Dirt Bikes
  • Mini Bikes
  • Go-Karts
  • Motor Assisted Bicycles - This includes electric powered bicycles

Operation of any of these devices on any highway, street, sidewalk, parking lot or any area that allows public motor vehicle traffic is strictly prohibited.

Use of these devices subject the operator to summons and/or arrest as well as confiscation of the motorized device. Please be considerate of the safety of your fellow motorists and pedestrians.

The NYPD Thanks You For Your Cooperation.

The 61st Precinct Community Council will meet at 7:30 p.m., April 11, at Homecrest Presbyterian Church, 1413 Avenue T, on the corner of East 15th Street.

The Community Council offers neighbors an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about crime and safety issues in the area. The monthly meetings are attended by Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas, the commanding officer of the precinct, who will present a report on incidents and trends in the neighborhood, and speak face-to-face with neighbors about specific concerns.

For further information, or if you have questions or comments concerning Community Affairs, call (718) 627-6847.

Photo by Paypaul

Another pawn shop is coming to Sheepshead Bay, this time at 2695 Coney Island Avenue – just up the block from one we reported on last month. It replaces City Smokes, a roll-your-own-cigarette place that closed in the face of a city lawsuit.

It’s the third pawn shop to hit the area in as many months, with the first opening in mid-February. That’s got our tipster, Paypaul, wondering about the direction of the neighborhood:

Now it seems a number of Pawn shops have opened or are scheduled to open in Sheepshead Bay. I spotted this one on Coney Island Avenue and it’s a block away from another one. Pawn shops are usually located in neighborhoods with a low income base or diminishing economy. Perhaps not all of us can afford the limo service up the block so we put things in hock to do so?

While others have also grumbled that this could be a sign of a declining Sheepshead Bay, the area is doing fairly well economically. We still have a more affluent, better-educated population than most of the rest of Brooklyn, and our real estate is higher than many other comparable areas.

So is it a decline in the neighborhood, or perhaps a changing trend in the clientele of these shops? What do you think?

Firefighters are responding to an all-hands fire at 602 Avenue T, between Ocean Parkway and East 7th Street in Gravesend, according to reports coming in over the police scanner.

The building is a six-story apartment building, and the initial report states the fire is on the first floor.

Additional FDNY units are on the way.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.