April 11, 2014 By Christian Murray
The Department of Education has approved a plan that will see as many as 250 PS 11 students sent by bus to a school in Astoria this fall.
The incoming kindergarten class at PS 11 will be sent to PS 171 in Astoria each day, while a new building is constructed at their overcrowded Woodside school.
The 4-to-5 year-old children will catch a bus at PS 11 (54-25 Skillman Ave.) and will be accompanied to PS 171 (14-14 29th Avenue) by their teachers.
The Panel for Education Policy voted Wednesday to bus the children to PS 171, despite calls by parents and elected officials to keep the children in the neighborhood.
The DOE was forced to relocate the children since the school’s outdated mini building–which caters to more than 200 students—is scheduled to be demolished this summer in order to make way for the construction of an 850-seat building.
The construction of the addition is anticipated to take three years, during which PS 11 will need space to accommodate its students—given the loss of the mini building.
However, since December, there has been a fierce debate as to where the incoming class of students should go.
Many parents want their children to attend school at the former St. Teresa School building in Woodside (50-20 45th Street). Others have suggested space at the new Sunnyside elementary school—located at 45-45 42nd Street– which is opening this fall.
However, both those schools fall within school District 24, while PS11 is in District 30.
The Department of Education has plans to revamp St. Teresa’s school building and use if for children in District 24, which is home to PS 199.
However, none of the parents viewed Astoria as a good location due to its distance.
‘It is unconscionable that in the face of vehement objections from many parents and community members, the Department of Education is moving forward with a plan to bus kindergartners from Woodside to a school almost three miles away in Astoria,” said Congressman Joe Crowley.
Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, the DOE will send the children by bus to Astoria. For the following two years, they will be sent to PS 339, another Woodside that’s being built. PS 339 will be located at 39-07 57th Street, less than half a mile from PS 11.
Crowley, as with this neighborhood’s other elected officials, praised the DOE for the construction of the school building,
“I commend the School Construction Authority and DOE for allocating millions of dollars toward this [school] expansion,” he said earlier this year.
However, “The DOE’s poor planning and judgment will now place a significant burden on 250 of our youngest students and their families,” Crowley said.
Meanwhile, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said: “I am disappointed that the DOE could not find alternative options suggested by PS 11 parents which kept their children closer to home.”