School District 30 rezoning unfinished

Parents and community leaders in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst came out to learn about the proposed changes to the school zones in School District 30 beginning September 2011.
“As vibrant as Jackson Heights is,” said Community District Education Council 30 (CDEC30) member Jeffrey Guyton, “the schools are too overcrowded.”
At meeting held on Thursday, October 21 at P.S. 148 in East Elmhurst, they learned about proposals to redraw the boundaries for eight schools in District 30, starting in the 2011-2012 school year. Some of the schools that will be affected are P.S. 69, P.S. 92, P.S./I.S. 127, P.S. 148, P.S. 149, P.S. 212, P.S. 222 and P.S. 228.
The Department of Education (DOE) plans to create a new zone to accommodate Public School 280, a school with more than 100 students already that opened in September on 94th Street and 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights in the old Blessed Sacrament School location. The school was opened to add over 500 seats with the hope of relieving overcrowding in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst. In three years, DOE hopes to open another elementary school.
Jeannie Tsavaris Basini, former president of CDEC30 and a member of the Community School District 30 Board, pointed out her role in securing P.S. 280.
“I told them (DOE) it would be an ideal location to relieve the overcrowding in the Jackson Heights area, which is great,” Basini said.
DOE officials reminded parents that children entering kindergarten starting in September 2011 will be impacted by the zoning changes. If a parent already has a child in a zoned public school, they will not be moved to another school. Also, if a child is entering kindergarten and they already have a sibling attending an elementary school, the child can get into the same school as long there is enough room. However, children in a school zone will always have priority.
DOE also plans to pair up the pre-K-2 P.S. 222 with P.S. 148 and the pre-K-2 P.S. 228 with P.S.149 so that when children graduate from the second grade, they are guaranteed a spot in their zoned elementary school. It also gives K-5 school principals a chance to know the needs of the newly incoming third grade students, said DOE officials at the meeting.
At the meeting, Basini also expressed her criticism of the DOE proposed plan to alleviate over-enrollment and equalize building utilization. According to her calculation, the DOE’s plan would require moving around over 1,700 students to different elementary schools in the district, in order to meet its goal of student capacity per school.
“My concern now is that the numbers are unrealistic,” Basini said. “The plan is totally flawed and it is not a realistic plan and it is not a cohesive plan. They don’t understand the blue book and utilization rate.”
Basini said Guyton reached out to her for help to understand the issues she raised. The proposed new zoning plan by the Department of Education’s Office of Portfolio Planning will be voted on at the CDEC30 meeting on Thursday, November 18 at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 144, located at 93-11 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights. DOE hopes to have a plan approved by the end of December before registration for kindergarten begins between January and February.
“This council will only vote for a plan that represents the whole community,” Guyton said.
For more information, parents should call the CDEC30 at 718-391-8380, email cec30@schools.nyc.gov or visit the office at 28-11 Queens Plaza North, Room 520, in Long Island City.

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