Woodside Students Will Have To Walk
The Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) has informed the District 24 Community Education Council (CEC 24) that, despite pleas from parents and faculty members of P.S. 229 in Woodside, they will not receive a waiver allowing older students to take school buses to class.
“They’ve gone completely dead on us,” CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni told the Times Newsweekly in an Aug. 14 phone interview, claiming that, with the exception of a letter to the body, the OPT has not been in contact with them. He later added that “the worst thing is, they gave us no reason” for the decision.
As previously reported in the Times Newsweekly, the agency withby drew a four-year-old variance in 2010 for P.S. 229 students in the third to sixth grades who live in and near the Big Six Towers middle-income housing complex in Woodside. The variance- needed because the area is closer than usually required for school busing-was initially granted because of the perceived danger of crossing the complicated intersection of 61st Street and Laurel Hill Boulevard, which is also near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
CEC 24 had lobbied intensely to have the variance reinstated, including inviting OPT officials to a walking tour of the area in March to point out hazardous walking areas.
Comaianni blasted the office for making what he claimed was “a dolvised lars-and-cents decision” and added that parents at the school should demand that their child be allowed to take the bus to and from class.
“I would not take no for an answer,” he stated.
Officials from OPT have been invited to CEC 24’s August meeting to explain their decision.
“We conducted a thorough review as a result of eliminating the schoolwide waiver,” said the Department of Education’s Marge Feinberg in a statement via email. “The review determined that the intersection over which concern has been expressed has both a traffic signal and a sidewalk along the underpass.”
Feinberg also noted that parents may request individual waivers for their children.