By Bianca Fortis
Despite a former proposal to rezone them, PS 12 and PS 229 will remain in their current zones, according to School District 24 officials.
The news was welcomed by hundreds of parents who packed in the gymnasium of PS 229, located at 67-25 51st Rd. in Maspeth, at the district’s Community Education Council meeting Tuesday night.
Both parents and students cheered and applauded when CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni made the announcement: “The zones will not be touched at this time,” he said about PS 12 and PS 229.
City Department of Education officials released proposed new zoning maps earlier this month, which were designed to relieve overcrowding within District 24, which includes schools in Maspeth, Glendale, Middle Village, Woodside, Elmhurst, Corona and Ridgewood.
If approved, the rezoning would not have come into effect until new students entered kindergarten in the 2014-15 school year.
But the proposal drew criticism from parents at PS 12, located in Woodside at 42-00 72nd St., and PS 229 out of concerns for the safety of their children. The new zones would have required some students to cross dangerous intersections, including Queens Boulevard, colloquially known as the “Boulevard of Death.”
Other students would have been forced to travel much further to school and buses were not guaranteed for them by the DOE. That left some parents with the problem of getting kids to school, especially if they had children in different schools.
“We can’t be in two places at once,” said Evelyn Vera, the PTA president at PS 229.
PS 229 Principal Dr. Sibylle Ajwani sent a letter to parents listing her concerns. She urged parents to voice their opinions to the CEC and District 24 Superintendent Madelene Chan.
Parents subsequently launched an opposition campaign. They spread their message on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter and called and e-mailed the DOE.
In the end, the opposition paid off.
Vera said the school can still be rezoned in the future, but for now she and the community were “thrilled” to learn of the news.
“This was all community-driven,” she said. “We were thinking of the kids.”
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who attended the meeting, said she could not remember when she saw so many parents at a CEC meeting.
“You at PS 229 made noise,” she told the crowd. “You fought a hard fight and you won.”
Crowley said the original proposal was a dangerous plan.
“We need to make sure when the DOE zones and builds new schools, they take into consideration where children are traveling from,” she said.
Comaianni said officials at the DOE do not necessarily know what neighborhoods they are splitting when rezoning comes into effect.
He said community feedback is important before rezoning takes place.
“We have to take your input and listen to you,” he said.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.