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Overcrowded Long Island City school will not lose middle school seats next year

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updated March 22, 10:25 a.m.

Students attending the only middle school in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City will no longer need to scramble to find a new school as previously expected.

Parents and students rallied last spring to bring awareness about the possible truncation of sixth- through eighth-grade classes at P.S./I.S. 78. The Department of Education (DOE) was considering phasing middle school seats out to make room for two new kindergarten classes and the influx of elementary school students.

According to a DOE spokesperson, the proposal is no longer being considered.

“There is currently no proposal to truncate P.S./I.S. 78, but the DOE continues to monitor enrollment growth in the area,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with the SCA and the community at large to ensure that we meet the needs of families in Hunters Point.”

The plan was scrapped partly because several new schools will be constructed in the area. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said four new schools will be built in the Long Island City and Woodside area, including a 600-seat middle school at the Hunters Point South development. The DOE plans to add 2,700 seats to School District 30, which includes Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, in the next five years.

Jennifer Theien, the co-founder of the Gantry Parent Association, said people were happy to hear the news, especially with the influx of families moving into the neighborhood.

“The whole community is ecstatic that the school is staying,” Theien said. “Taking away a school when we need more schools would just be silly.”

Though this news is welcomed by parents, Theien said the group’s biggest concern is the lack of pre-K seats in the area.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced last spring that 36 new pre-K seats would be added at Astoria’s Ravenswood Community Library in School District 30 for the upcoming school year.

But Theien, who will be looking to send her daughter to pre-K next year, said more seats are needed.

“There are just not enough classes,” Theien said. “We definitely just need more elementary schools, pre-K through eighth grade.”

A spokesperson for the DOE said there are enough pre-K seats for every child in District 30. The number of children enrolled in pre-K programs since di Blasio took office has gone up 650 percent from 409 children enrolled in 2014 to 3,061 children enrolled in programs in 2016, according to DOE data.

Theien added that parents were excited to hear that for the first time in years, no child was put on a waiting list for a kindergarten seat in the district ― including her own daughter.

State Senator Michael Gianaris said the decision not to truncate the school will mean that parents in Long Island City can provide their children with a great education in their own neighborhood.

“With this hurdle cleared for kindergarten admissions and the advancement of middle school students, I am pleased more parents will have the opportunity to give their kids a quality education right here in our own neighborhood,” Gianaris said.

The LIC Post first reported the story.

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