By Henry Euler
On April 20, the District 26 Community Education Council held a hearing regarding the proposed rezoned elementary school lines in Bayside. The lines were redrawn to take into account PS 332, the new elementary school currently under construction on the former Keil property on 48th Avenue and 211th Street.
The school is slated to open in September 2017 with only a kindergarten grade the first year. Each subsequent year another grade will be added. How does that address the pressing overcrowded conditions currently at PS 31, 41, 159, 162 and 203? Those five schools will continue to operate at over 100 percent capacity even after PS 332 is fully operational. The new school is supposed to alleviate overcrowding.
The Office of District Planning sent two reps who worked on the rezoning to the hearing to explain the parameters of the plan. Neither rep lives in the area. Nor does the person who came to explain the busing plans to get the children to and from school. He doesn’t even live in Queens. Illegible maps were given to the public who attended. Apparently, local residents were not asked for their input or advice when the plan was developed. The Department of Education orchestrated all of the decisions that will affect our communities for years. On May 31, a vote on the plan will be taken by the CEC.
The new boundary lines for PS 31 stood out. This new area is banana-shaped, and I later found out when I finally saw a legible map that it stretches from Utopia Parkway in Flushing to Springfield Boulevard in Bayside and is only a few blocks wide. In my opinion, it makes no sense.
My civic organization, the Auburndale Improvement Association, which extends into western Bayside, has taken the position that PS 130 on 42nd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard on the Auburndale/Bayside border should be returned for use by local children living around the school. Currently, local children are bused to overcrowded schools, including PS 31, 159 and 162. The students currently attending the special K-3 school for science and technology at PS 130, mostly District 25 children who are transported into the community, could potentially be transferred to the new PS 332. The new school should also be opened to District 26 children living near that building. Rezoning of boundary lines for the other elementary schools in the area would then be largely unnecessary.
Of crucial importance is how to safely ensure that children attending PS 332 can be dropped off and picked up at that congested location. I heard no mention of that at the hearing. Of course, residents living around the new school should be consulted for their input. Perhaps they may have different thoughts of how the school should be utilized, which then would necessitate a new school being constructed in District 25 for those children currently attending PS 130.
In any case, the community around PS 130 wants its school back. This would also reduce the overcrowding at PS 31, 159 and 162. My civic organization wants only the best for all children, and we feel in particular, that it is time for the children who live around PS 130 to stop being exiled from their neighborhood school. Open dialogue and input from all segments of the Bayside community should lead to a solution that benefits all, especially our most important asset, our children.
First Vice President
Auburndale Improvement Association, Inc.