Give local kids their public school back
May 10, 2016 | 7701 views | 0 0 comments | 186 186 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last month, the District 26 Community Education Council (CEC) held a hearing regarding the proposed rezoning elementary school lines in Bayside. On May 31, the CEC will officially vote on the plan.

The lines were redrawn to take into account PS 332, the new elementary school currently under construction on the former Keil property at 48th Avenue and 211th Street.

The school is slated to open in September 2017 with only a kindergarten, and each subsequent year another grade will be added. How does that address the pressing overcrowded conditions currently at public schools 31, 41, 159, 162 and 203?

The new school is supposed to alleviate overcrowding, but those five schools will continue to operate at over 100 percent capacity even after PS 332 is fully operational.

The Office of District Planning sent two representatives to explain the parameters of the plan. Neither rep lives in the area, nor does the person who came to explain the busing plans to get children to and from school.

Illegible maps were given to the people who attended, and apparently local residents were not asked for their input or advice when the plan was developed. The Department of Education orchestrated all of the decisions that will affect our community for years.

The new boundary lines for PS 31 stood out. This area is banana-shaped, and I later found out when I finally saw a legible map that it stretches from Utopia Parkway in Flushing to Springfield Boulevard in Bayside and is only a few blocks wide. In my opinion, it makes no sense.

The Auburndale Improvement Association, which extends into western Bayside, has taken the position that PS 130 at 42nd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard on the Auburndale/Bayside border should be returned for use by local children living around the school.

Currently, local children are bused to overcrowded schools, including public schools 31, 159 and 162. The students currently attending the special K-3 school for science and technology at PS 130 are mostly District 25 children who could potentially be transferred to the new PS 332.

The new school should also be open to District 26 children living near that building. Rezoning of boundary lines for the other elementary schools in the area would then be largely unnecessary.

Of crucial importance is how to safely ensure that children attending PS 332 can be dropped off and picked up at that congested location. I heard no mention of that at the hearing.

In any case, the community around PS 130 wants it school back, which would also reduce the overcrowding at 31, 159 and 162. It is time for the children who live around PS 130 to stop being exiled from their neighborhood school.

Open dialogue and input from all segments of the Bayside community should lead to a solution that benefits all, especially our most important asset, our children.

Henry Euler is a resident of Bayside and first vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association.
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