Updated Jan.28, 1:43 p.m.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget plan for the 2017 fiscal year includes $225 million toward building four new schools in Long Island City and Woodside, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Parents in the rapidly expanding neighborhoods in School District 30 have been petitioning for new schools in the area, especially for a middle school. Sunnyside residents Deborah and Sean McGowan started the Sunnyside/Woodside Middle School Project to petition the Department of Education (DOE) to open a middle school in the area.
We are cautiously optimistic. When you advocate, you don’t always know if anyone is listening,” Deborah McGowan said. “It seems right now, that they are.”
They held a rally in October after the DOE told them an additional middle school in the district was not necessary. The group suggested that a lot on 37th Avenue and 48th Street, owned by the Department of Transportation and used to store lampposts, would be a viable area for the school.
According to the group’s Facebook page, they are requesting that the city avoid building a new school north of Northern Boulevard. Deborah McGowan said the group is also looking at a site behind Lou Lodati Park on 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue.
“Try to imagine hundreds of middle school children crossing Northern Boulevard at 48th Street or Woodside Avenue this coming Monday morning after the first blizzard of the year,” according to a Jan. 22 post on the Facebook page. “We need a middle school south of Northern Boulevard.”
No sites have been chosen for any of the schools, and the DOE did not specifically indicate which grades they would serve. Parents and students at P.S./I.S. 78 in Long Island City, the only elementary school serving Hunters Point, held a rally earlier last year to protest the possible truncation of the school. The DOE announced the possible truncation of the sixth through eighth grades at the school in order to accommodate the incoming elementary-aged students and two new kindergarten classes.
A spokesperson for the councilman said additional details about the schools would be released in the next several weeks.
Deborah Alexander, co-president of the Community Education Council of District 30, said that she is not displeased with the additional schools. However, she said that she was left with more questions after reading the School Construction Authority’s capital plan amendment, which was also released last Thursday.
“There is no stand-alone middle school on the capital plan,” Alexander said. “We were under the impression that [Sunnyside/Woodside] were in the running for a middle school. We’ve been working for years to get a middle school in that zone.”
According to the SCA capital plan amendment, four P.S./I.S. projects are planned for School District 30 in the next five years, but no stand-alone middle schools.
Alexander said she is also concerned that the plan called for an additional 600 pre-K seats but there is no money earmarked for class reduction in School District 30, the second most overcrowded district in the borough.
“I’m not displeased for the schools in our district by any stretch,” Alexander said. “I have questions certainly for the DOE.”
The mayor’s budget will allocate $868 million citywide to add 11,800 new seats. A spokesperson for the DOE said School District 30, which includes Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside and parts of Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, would receive 800 seats through the amendment in addition to the 1,900 already planned.