Tag Archives: Department of Education

Parents call for permanent annex at Corona’s P.S. 143 to alleviate overcrowding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Parents at one Corona school are saying enough is enough and are calling on officials to give their children more room to succeed.

Over a hundred parents and children gathered on Tuesday morning with state Senator Jose Peralta outside of P.S. 143, The Louis Armstrong Elementary School, located at 34-74 113th St., to propose the building of a permanent addition to the school to help alleviate the chronic overcrowding.

According to Peralta, the Corona elementary school was originally built to accommodate 900 students, yet currently there are about 1,800 students enrolled at the site. This causes some children to have lunch at 9:50 a.m. and a large number of students have to take their classes outside of the school’s building.

The new annex would replace a mini building and six temporary classroom units, also known as trailers, which are found on the side of the school’s original building. Some students have also been moved to an annex located at 98th Street and 38th Avenue. 

“We need to have real classrooms for our children. A trailer is no place for a kid to be learning and that’s something that we’ve been saying time and time again to the administration,” Peralta said. “No kid should have to learn in a trailer. Forget about the state-of-the-art classrooms, state-of-the-art technology, we just want every student to sit and get an education in a real classroom.

Peralta first proposed the idea of the annex to the Department of Education two years ago, and was told that the agency agreed with the need for a solution to alleviate the overcrowding at P.S. 143. However issues arose because the property where the building would go is owned by the Parks Department. 

Yet the senator said that the building of a new annex would not affect the recreational areas because it would only take up the space already being used by the mini building and trailers. 

“Enough of the talk – we need the walk, we need actions. It is time to act now,” Peralta said. “This is the 21st century. We need to treat our kids like we are in the 21st century,”

Parents said they are concerned because their young children, mostly first-graders, have to go from one location to another during bad weather conditions and are also learning in classrooms with over 30 students. 

The parents added that they call on representatives of the Department of Education, Parks Department and School Construction Authority to believe that it was their children being made to learn in these conditions. 

“We are fighting and no one listens to us and we are tired of this situation,” said Juana de los Santos, who has two children attending P.S. 143. “I believe our children deserve a good education because they are the future of this country. We want an answer and soon, we don’t want them to tell us ‘Here, in five years it will happen.’ We are tired and our children are suffering.”

According to DOE spokesman Jason Fink, the agency is “working with the Parks Department to explore ways to add capacity at this school.”

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Hoping for Lunar New Year holiday, lawmakers move to end Brooklyn-Queens Day


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File photo

State lawmakers introduced on Tuesday a bill that would eliminate Brooklyn-Queens Day from the New York City public school calendar.

The measure sponsored by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky aims to clear a day on the calendar to permit public schools to close for the Asian Lunar New Year in the winter. Brooklyn-Queens Day, which falls on the first Thursday of June, marks the foundation of the first Sunday schools in both boroughs during the 19th century.

For decades, local Protestant churches celebrated Brooklyn-Queens Day with parades through their communities, but the parades stopped in recent years as Protestant congregations plummeted. The last major Brooklyn-Queens Day parade took place in Ridgewood in 2009, ending a century-long tradition.

Nevertheless, schools in Brooklyn and Queens remain closed the first Thursday of June, but many of them use the day for staff development.

The bill states that “there is no reason to continue this anachronistic holiday in state statutes when there is pressure to increase the time students spend in school.” However, Stavisky noted, the elimination of Brooklyn-Queens Day gives the city Department of Education (DOE) flexibility in adding another holiday such as Asian Lunar New Year.

“As a former teacher, I understand the mayor and the Department of Education have a mandate to make sure students are receiving as much classroom instructional time as possible,” Stavisky said. “But educating our students and allowing them to observe important cultural holidays should not be opposing goals. I believe that removing the now defunct Brooklyn-Queens Day and replacing it with the Lunar New Year is a pragmatic solution that the mayor and the Department of Education must consider.”

Among those who joined Stavisky at a Tuesday press conference in Flushing in support of the bill were state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymen Ron Kim and Edward Braunstein, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and City Councilman Peter Koo.

“The history of Brooklyn-Queens Day demonstrates how observance of this day on the public school calendar has changed over the years to meet the changing demographics of our city,” Koo said. “Today, approximately 15 percent of our New York City public school students identify as Asian-American, and we must take this into consideration as we prepare the school calendar for future years.”

According to Stavisky’s office, city public schools in Asian-majority neighborhoods report absentee rates as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year, which is “the most important cultural celebration on the Asian calendar.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation declaring two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as school holidays beginning this September. Koo criticized the mayor in March for failing to grant the same holiday status for the Asian Lunar New Year.

Last December, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation granting the DOE greater flexibility to close schools on cultural and religious holidays. By law, all New York City public schools are required to hold at least 180 school days every year.

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Award-winning Queens author Paul Volponi teaches Cardozo students, releases new book


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Freshman students in a Benjamin Cardozo High School English class got a special visit from an author who they may not be able to write off from their memories.

Award-winning Queens author Paul Volponi, who is known for his novel “Black and White” about the racial disparities of the city’s justice system, taught the class for three sessions on March 9, 11 and 13.

The appearances coincided with the release of Volponi’s newest novel this week, called “Game Seven,” which is based on the story of a young Cuban baseball player’s dream to play in the MLB.

In his three-day residency at Cardozo, Volponi taught students writing skills through fun activities, such as using popular names like Peter Parker and Fred Flintstone to show how alliteration makes names more memorable. He also showed the youngsters how to add color and characterization to make dialogue more exciting.

“He is the first author that I have met, and I like him,” said freshman Mustak Azad. “He seemed pretty interesting and he made a really great impression on me.”

Volponi 3

Volponi’s novel “Black and White” was the International Reading Association’s 2006 Young Adult Novel of the Year. He grew up in Queens and is a product of the public school system as a graduate of Aviation High School in Long Island City.

He has taught students for years, but mostly outside of New York, because the Department of Education (DOE) doesn’t “prioritize” bringing authors to teach kids in its budget as much as other states do, he said.

“I connect with kids all over the country and unfortunately I do more kids in Missouri, Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio than I do in New York City,” Volponi said.

The program to have Volponi teach was funded through a grant that classroom veteran teacher Nancy Orens wrote and received from the DOE.

Volponi 2

Besides writing tips, Volponi also taught the children how to go about starting their first books and writing letters to publishers to pitch their ideas. Volponi also signed and gave away copies of some of his old books, as well as a copy of “Game Seven.”

Orens believes overall the experience will be a good memory for the students.

“Getting feedback from a professional author, and participating in a workshop, which they know their other friends didn’t have an opportunity to do, they now have a memory that they can carry with them through high school,” Orens said.

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DOE plans to re-site Corona schools


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Angy Altamirano

The Department of Education (DOE) has proposed a plan to temporarily move a grade from an overcrowded Corona school to a new campus slated to open in September.

If the plan is approved, some students at P.S. 330, located at 110-08 Northern Blvd., would be shifted to Q315, which is currently under construction at 43-18 97th Pl. for the 2015-2016 school year.

Students from two other schools have already been approved to be moved to the same location for the coming school year. In November, the Panel for Educational Policy approved a proposal to re-site P.S. 110 to building Q315, where it will be co-located with a new site of existing District 75 school P.S. 227.

If the DOE’s proposal is approved, students from P.S. 330, P.S. 110 and P.S. 227 would be co-located at the Q315 building, meaning that they may share common spaces such as auditoriums, gyms, libraries and cafeterias in that building.

In February, it was determined that P.S. 330 could not accommodate kindergarten students in its building for the 2015-2016 school year. The re-siting and co-location of P.S. 330’s kindergarten class is necessary to enroll kindergarten students at P.S. 330, DOE claims. This will provide a sufficient number of kindergarten seats in District 24, a historically overcrowded district, according to the DOE.

P.S. 110 currently has students in kindergarten through second grade at their building at 48-25 37th St. and will move to building Q315 before the 2015-2016 school year. With the move to Q315, P.S. 110 is planning on phasing in to serving students from kindergarten to grade five.

P.S. 110 is an existing non-zoned elementary school that serves students who are overflowed from their zoned schools in Corona and Elmhurst. In May, the District 24 Community Education Council approved a plan to create an elementary school zone for Q315. P.S. 110 will operate as a zoned elementary school starting in September 2015.

P.S. 330 is a zoned elementary school that serves students from kindergarten to fourth grade, and plans to phase in to cater to fifth-graders as well for the 2015-2016 school year.

According to the School Construction Authority, building Q315 will have a 1,110-student capacity and includes a designed space for a District 75 school. With this proposal, P.S. 110 is projected to serve 350 to 390 kindergarten through third-grade students, and P.S. is set to serve approximately 50 to 60 kindergarten students in Q315.

Opportunities for the public to speak on the subject will include two joint public hearings at 110-08 Northern Blvd. and 48-25 37th St. There are dedicated phone and email lines at 212-347-7621 and D24Proposals@schools.nyc.gov.

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Northern Queens parents gain no traction during meeting with BP Katz over school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Whitestone and Flushing parents were sent back to the drawing board after meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz to discuss their desire to create a gifted and talented program for middle schools in the northern and central Queens area.

Lisa Fusco and a growing number of parents are building a case for the creation of gifted and talented programs for middle schools in their district. During a meeting with Katz and education officials on Wednesday, the parents were told that the district’s superintendent was the only one with the power to extend the program from its limited elementary school reach to middle school.

“They’re giving us the run around,” Fusco said. “We’ve spoken to [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] before and that hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We’ve tried everything else.”

Mango declined a request for comment.

Fusco’s fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the gifted and talented program in P.S. 79 and — unlike in many other school districts — the program does not continue into middle school within District 25, which covers most of central and northern Queens. Neighboring districts 26 and 30 provide the program to students in middle school. More than 150 parents have signed a petition to bring the program into their middle schools in places like Flushing and Whitestone.

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students who show academic promise and get bored easily in a traditional classroom setting. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

“We have made some real strides engaging community leaders,” Fusco said. “And we will continue to push for the program in our communities.”

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Whitestone and northern Queens residents push for expansion of school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Parents in Whitestone and Flushing are trying to give the city a new lesson plan.

Lisa Fusco, from Whitestone, and 150 parents in northern Queens signed a petition to the city Department of Eudcation demanding the creation of gifted and talented programs for the middle schools in their  district. Several of the parents are also meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Education officials on Dec. 10 to discuss the issue.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

The large area has six middle schools, but none of them have gifted and talented programs. For Fusco and others, that’s a problem.

“Our children are in the gifted and talented program in the elementary schools and we would like them to continue this wonderful program into middle school,” said Fusco, whose fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the program in P.S. 79. “It would be such a shame if they had to stop this program.”

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

While the program is usually meant for elementary schools, the group’s request isn’t unprecedented. School District 26, which runs along the border with Long Island, and District 30, Long Island City and Astoria, both have middle schools that offer the gifted and talented program.

“I don’t understand why the DOE lacks a citywide policy on [gifted and talented programs] and why it provides [gifted and talented] classes in one district and not another,” said Morris Altman, the president of the education council in District 25.

Justin Chang, from Whitestone, has two boys who are enrolled in the program at P.S. 79, and he worries about what his kids will do if there is no equivalent teaching method being used in the local middle schools.

“They are different and they need help in a different way,” Chang said. “I would just hope they consider opening the program for our district.”

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New pre-K center to open in Elmhurst school


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark

A new $3 million pre-K center is set to open next year in Elmhurst.

The School Construction Authority recently started accepting bids for the center, called Q391, which will be located in St. Bartholomew School at 44-15 Judge St.

The center will have 144 seats, according to the Department of Education, and is expected to open in September 2015.

The School Construction Authority is collecting bids until Nov. 25.

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Astoria teacher raises funds to build vegetable garden in classroom


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Marlena Nadler

Students at one Astoria school will be planting the seeds for healthier eating.

The entire eighth grade class at the Young Women’s Leadership School, located at 23-15 Newton Ave., will soon be caring for a hydroponic garden that will grow on the window sills of one of the school’s classrooms.

Marlena Nadler, one of the teachers at the school, started a fundraising page two weeks ago on the site DonorsChoose.org to raise money to finish purchasing the supplies needed to set up the garden.

By Monday, the $525 goal was reached and in the next three weeks the school should be receiving water pumps, basins, nutrients, insect spray, mounts and water testers.

“It was so amazing,” Nadler said about the donations. “It was really nice to know that there are people out there supporting projects like this.”

The garden system, including the grow towers and lights, are being donated by Astoria resident Robert Nannery, who recently started the company Viable Spaces, which installs and maintains hydroponic agricultural systems for nonprofits, restaurants and other businesses.

A tower like this one will be installed inside the classroom at the Young Women’s Leadership School. (Photo courtesy of Bright Agrotech)

A tower like this one will be installed inside the classroom at the Young Women’s Leadership School. (Photo courtesy of Bright Agrotech)

Hydroponic gardens grow plants without soil, instead using mineral nutrient liquid. The garden being donated to the school will take up almost zero space, be equivalent to about 50 square feet of farm space and will be mounted to the windows.

The students will be able to grow leafy greens such as mint, kale, basil, oregano, lettuce and more.

“Technically you can’t have a farm in the city, it’s not really possible,” Nannery said. “But with what I am looking to do, anybody can farm in the city. It can be indoors or out, you can put them anywhere.”

After installing the garden, Nannery, who has a hydroponic garden growing on the roof of his Astoria home, will go to the classroom every month to talk to students and teach them about what they can grow and how to care for it.

The students will care for the garden during their advisory period of the day, which is used to “focus on the developing of the whole girl, where teachers focus on them growing academically, as well as socially and emotionally,” according to Nadler.

Along with showing the students the scientific, mathematic and social aspects of caring for a garden, the produce will hopefully be used in the school’s cafeteria to feed all students.

Before being fed to students, the vegetables will have to be approved by the Department of Education’s Garden to School Café Program.

“I just hope that they learn that sustainability is something that can occur in urban environments,” Nadler said. “We picture farms and that’s something that isn’t viable in New York City. I never thought that you could grow food in a room and have it be healthy and not genetically modified.”

As soon as the school receives the supplies, Nadler said they hope to have the garden up and running by the beginning of December with hopes to start eating the vegetables by the start of the new year.

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Jackson Heights middle school to welcome more space for students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Students at one Jackson Heights middle school are getting more room to learn.

Local elected officials, Department of Education (DOE) and School Construction Authority (SCA) representatives, and members of the I.S. 230 community will come together Thursday morning to cut the ribbon on the middle school’s new annex.

Located across the street from the middle school on 34th Avenue and 74th Street, the new building has classrooms, science labs, an art studio, a library with computers, bathrooms on every floor, an exercise room and a cafeteria.

“This new annex will help alleviate overcrowding at the main I.S. 230 middle school building,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “In addition to providing much-needed space, the building provides rooms for science labs, the arts and exercise. These rooms are essential to a well-rounded education.”

I.S. 230 is located in School District 30, which is one of the city’s most overcrowded school districts, according to officials.

I.S. 230

I.S. 230

The SCA also purchased two lots on 74th Street which will be used as outdoor play and exercise areas, according to Dromm.

“I want to thank the DOE and the SCA for making this building so beautiful and functional,” Dromm said. “It will go a long way to improving education in our district.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the annex will take place Thursday at 9 a.m. at 74th Street and 34th Avenue.

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DOE protects Bayside schoolchildren from non-existent construction project


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Aasha Mahadevan

As a new school year starts, students at a Bayside elementary school will find their school shrouded in scaffolding and mesh for a building project that doesn’t yet exist, according to city officials.

The city put the scaffolding up last school year at P.S. 162, according to a DOE spokeswoman, who said the project is still in its planning stage and designs for the project haven’t been made.

“This is really depressing for the children who are just going back to school and they have to go through this ominous entrance now,” said Beatrice Gallagher, who lives near the school. “Why has no work been done but they have the scaffolding up? That’s their job and they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing for us.”

The K-5 school, which was built in 1936, was chosen for an “exterior modernization project” that would replace and repair the roof, parapets, windows and exterior masonry.

The DOE spokeswoman said the scaffolding was erected for safety reasons even though the school is “safe” with no danger of falling bricks or debris.

The city doesn’t have an estimated completion date — or estimated start date — and the school declined to comment.

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Rego Park special needs school closing, displacing vulnerable students


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

A Rego Park school for children with special needs closes on Friday and many of the disabled students of the year-round school have nowhere to go, family members told The Courier.

Life-Skills School, which served students with mental and secondary emotional challenges ages 9 through 21, was the only school of its kind in Queens.

Its closure leave a vulnerable population without a local specialized school to go to.

“I have no real options for my brother right now,” Theresa Michie, whose brother Randy attended Life-Skills, said. “I don’t know what else to do.”

Parents and guardians of about 43 students received a notice from the school saying it was closing in 90 days, as required by the state, but many say they were not given enough time to make other arrangements.

While some parents have already found schools for their children, many children have yet to be placed.

“No one knew until late May that this was going to happen,” said Peg Rasmussen, whose daughter Gabriella goes to the school. “It was cruel to wait so long to tell us.”

Rasmussen was one of the lucky ones. She said she was able to place her daughter in an appropriate school with the assistance of state Sen. Joe Addabbo’s office.

“I was very fortunate to be able to help Mrs. Rasmussen and her daughter,” state Sen. Addabbo said, “but there are still children that need the proper assistance.

Barbara Hendricks, director of the Life-Skills board of trustees, said she only gave the allotted amount of time because she was trying to look for other options and because if she had told families earlier, she would have had “pure chaos on [her] hands.”

“The school was running on a deficit for years now,” Hendricks said. “We wouldn’t have been able to fund the programs our students need this year. I did not want to do this. It was a very difficult decision.”

Life-Skills is a nonprofit private school that is publicly funded by New York State. With salaries, high rent prices and the lack of enrollment, the school did not have enough money and now must shut its doors, according to Hendricks.

When the closure notices went out, each child was paired with case worker to help with the placement process. The options for many parents depended on the classification of disabilities their children have. Some children were placed in private specialized schools in Queens, but others were given the option of going out of the borough or to District 75 public schools, such as Randy was offered.

But some children, like Randy, who go to Life-Skills have been let down by public schooling already, which makes his sister reluctant to put him back in the system.

“I took him out of public school already because it was not working for him,” said Michie, who lives in Astoria. “Now, the only school like Life-Skills that is currently willing to take him is in Westchester. I can’t send him there.”

There were many days that Michie had to rush over to Life-Skills because of situations involving her brother.

She said if she sends Randy to Westchester and a problem arose it would take her over an hour to get there, which is too long for her to feel safe.

Hendricks said that 95 percent of the displaced children have been offered slots in private schools “all over” the city and surrounding counties, but 13 families had yet to accept the outplacement. She added that she frequently follows up with the Department of Education and that they are working closely with all students to place them in schools that work for them.

For now, guardians and parents who do not like the options they were given will have to keep looking for viable schools. Michie said it is very difficult to find a school close enough for a child with multiple disabilities, like her brother Randy.

“We just have to hope that we can find a place to send Randy,” Michie, who cancelled a trip to Florida just in case she has to meet with a school, said. “[Since she got the letter] It’s been a headache every day.”

 

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Renderings reveal look of new P.S./I.S. 314 school in Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Department of Education


The School Construction Authority posted renderings of P.S./I.S. 314 in Jamaica, giving residents a glimpse into the future of a new school in the neighborhood. 

The school, which will be located on the corner of 164th Street and Hillside Avenue, is just one of many coming to the borough in the next few years to target overcrowding. It was approved by the City Council in 2011.

It will be four stories and approximately 113,092 square feet, according to city filings, and accommodate more than 830 students, from pre-K through the eighth-grade. It is expected to open in September 2015.

Gruzen Samton Architects of IBI Group designed the building, which is shaped like an “L” and organized into two main components: a four-story academic wing with classrooms, offices, a cafeteria and library, and a three-story public assembly wing, which houses the gymnasium and an auditorium.

To see more renderings of the project click here.

 

 

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Workers to receive nearly $400K in underpaid wages


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Office

After not being fully paid for contracted work, two workers, including an Astoria man, have been given what they were rightfully owed.

City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced an agreement with National Insulation & GC, Corp., in which the company admitted to “willfully and knowingly failing to pay two employees,” Astoria resident Angel Ribadeneira and Francisco Ayala from Brooklyn, a prevailing wage for contracted work.

Both men were hired by National Insulation to do insulation work at city public schools between December 2006 and November 2010, according to the comptroller’s office. An investigation by the comptroller’s office, prompted by a DOE referral and provided evidence, revealed allegations of under reporting hours, misclassification of workers and use of “ghost workers” on sites.

“We have found that all too often, employees are fleeced out of money to which they’re entitled by unscrupulous contractors looking to cut corners,” Stringer said. “These employees worked hard for their salaries and they deserve to get every cent that’s rightfully owed to them.”

National Insulation will pay a fine of $435,666.72, including more than $39,000 in civil penalties to the city, as a result of the settlement.

“I’m thrilled,” said Ribadeneira, who received a $102,000 payout. “I’m going to make certain my wife and I will have enough to live on comfortably and set aside money for my three sons and six grandchildren.”

Ayala is receiving $294,000.

 

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Free lunches for kids to be distributed at Queens libraries this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY PAULINA TAM

Twenty-two Queens Library locations, in partnership with the city’s Department of Education (DOE), will be distributing free summer meals to children and teens 18 years and under starting June 27 to August 29.

Bagged lunches will be served every Monday through Friday between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. and each will generally include a fresh sandwich, fruit, milk and sometimes a salad, according to library spokeswoman Joanne King.

“The library is an open public space and we want to attract people to come to the library,” King said. “While they’re here they can have free access to other programs. The Queens Library also has a very robust summer reading program and we want to encourage people to get involved with that so they can be better prepared for the academic program in the fall.”

There is no application, qualification or ID necessary to receive a free meal. Children and teens are recommended to arrive early to get lunches, while supplies last. The Queens Library is just one of many agencies collaborating with the DOE, and interested parties could call 311 to get a full list of participating locations.

Listed below are the participating Queens Library locations:

312 Beach 54 St., Arverne

14-01 Astoria Blvd., Astoria

117-11 Sutphin Blvd., Baisley Park

218-13 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights

1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway

41-17 Main St., Flushing

202-05 Hillside Ave., Hollis

89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica

134-26 225th St., Laurelton

98-30 57th Ave., Lefrak City

37-44 21st St., Long Island City

40-20 Broadway (at Steinway Street), Long Island City

92-24 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park

158-21 Jewel Ave., Pomonok (Flushing)

103-34 Lefferts Blvd., Richmond Hill

169-09 137th Ave., Rochdale Village

116-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park

204-01 Hollis Ave., South Hollis

108-41 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., South Jamaica

43-06 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside

85-41 Forest Pkwy., Woodhaven

54-22 Skillman Ave., Woodside

 

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DOE votes to bus more than 250 Woodside students to Astoria school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of Woodside parents have lost the fight to keep their children close to home.

The Department of Education (DOE) voted on Wednesday night to temporary relocate more than 250 students from P.S.11 in Woodside to P.S. 171 in Astoria for the next three years.

The relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I have maintained that the expansion of P.S. 11 is a necessary investment in our children’s education and is vitally important to alleviating our overcrowded schools,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said. “However, I am disappointed and troubled by the DOE’s lack of foresight to avoid this terrible situation.”

Crowley added, “The DOE’s poor planning and judgment will now place a significant burden on 250 of our youngest students and their families. Our children only get one real opportunity at a great education and it is unfortunate our city cannot do right by them.”

Seven members of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) voted in favor of the proposal, while two were against and one abstained from voting.

Since December, parents and elected officials fought to keep the students closer to their Woodside homes and last month asked the DOE to consider renting space in the nearby former St. Teresa School building.

But P.S.11 parents say the DOE told them the former Catholic school would not be practical for the students due to lack of adequate resources at the site.

“Where there is a will there should be a way,” said Martin Connolly, whose youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year and faces being bused to Astoria. “We are just disappointed. At the moment we are just accepting the situation.”

“We are now looking very seriously at our son’s future,” the father of three said.

Connolly also has two other children currently at P.S. 11, a daughter in second grade and son in kindergarten.

“After extensive outreach to the community, we decided to move forward on delivering a state-of-the-art addition to P.S. 11 that will enrich student’s academic experience and reduce overcrowding,” DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said.

 

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