A group of parents from Sunnyside and Woodside have started a petition calling on city and school officials to bring a new middle school into District 30, which is known for its overcrowded schools.
Debra McGowan, a parent of a first-grader at P.S. 11 in Woodside, presented the petition during a “State of Our Schools Town Hall” meeting on Tuesday organized by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, chair of the state Assembly Education Committee.
The petition, started on Feb. 12, comes after the parents starting calling on the School Construction Authority and Department of Education last year for a new middle school in the area which serves elementary schools P.S. 150, P.S 11 and P.S. 339, slated to open in the fall.
McGowan said since last year, parents have come up with potential sites and have presented it to the SCA. However on Feb. 6, the parents were told by the agencies that according to the latest census there are not enough children in the area to justify a new middle school.
“The children in [District] 30 are zoned to I.S. 125, which is in technically [District] 24, but there are 1,700 children in that middle school and that is a thousand too many,” Nolan said. “So to suggest that situation should continue is ridiculous, to say there are not enough kids, when there are going to be more.”
Along with having to attend middle schools that are overcrowded, McGowan added that students from Sunnyside and Woodside have to cross dangerous thoroughfares such as Queens and Northern boulevards to get to their designated middle schools.
McGowan said she is trying to get as many signatures as possible by the end of the month and will present the petitions at the next Panel for Educational Policy meeting scheduled for Feb. 25. She added that the goal is to not miss out on the 2015-2019 capital plan, which would look to build three middle schools in Queens.
“We’re here and I need signatures to prove that we’re here,” McGowan said. “I feel that we need to let them know that we need to build a school in the area.”
More information about the petition can be found on the Sunnyside Woodside MSP Facebook page.
The DOE did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Along with the petition, during the town hall meeting, Nolan and education advocates described how the state owes the city school system $5.9 billion as a result of underfunding, and they criticized Governor Cuomo’s education agenda.
Some of the issues voiced by those present at the meeting included problems with the emphasis on high stakes standardized tests, lack of funding for arts and music, and asking to keep the current cap on the number of charter schools in the city.
Representatives from the coalition Alliance for Quality Education, which calls for quality education for city schools, plan to march and lobby for public education in Albany on March 11 and have started using the hashtag #wecantwait to gather supporters.
“There may be some bad things happening but we do have a chance to make some good things happen,” Nolan said.