Give PS 130 back to District 26

By Terri Pouymari and Henry Euler

The drive to reclaim PS 130 back for the use by local children continues.

This school, geographically in District 26 at 200-01 42nd Ave., is currently used by mostly District 25 students enrolled in a special program of science and technology.

Meanwhile, students who live within walking distance of this school are basically shut out and are transported to other overcrowded schools in District 26.

This September, grades 4 and 5 will be added to the PS 130 program. The school is currently operating over capacity. Where will they be putting these additional students?

A new school, PS 376, will be opening on the former Keil property this fall. But the plan is only to start out with kindergarten classes at this huge building. The following school year, another grade will be added, and so on, until grades K through 5 are in the building during the 2022-2023 school year. Is this an efficient way to utilize this building when most elementary schools in District 26 are bursting at the seams?

The solution that the Auburndale Improvement Association is suggesting is to transfer the current PS 130 program to the new school where there will be adequate room for all of the grades, K-5. Perhaps there will be room for some District 26 students to also attend the excellent program being offered.

So then return PS 130 for use by the local neighborhood children who will be able to walk to their school. This will decrease enrollment in overcrowded PS 31, 159 and 162, which currently are feeder schools for those children who would normally be attending PS 130.

The Auburndale Improvement Association has submitted their idea to the schools chancellor. We have been told that the idea is not viable, but no concrete reasons have been given why this plan is not viable. We have submitted hundreds of petition signatures with comments to the chancellor demanding the return of PS 130 for use by local children.

Two sets went out, one in 2013 and another in 2016. Copies also went to the Superintendents of District 25 and 26 and elected officials.

The answer from on high at the DOE is always “no.” The last response we received came from an assistant to the chancellor, who was not even aware that the school had been a District 26 school for over 50 years before it was taken over by District 25.

Momentum is moving toward realization of our goal, despite the avoidance by the chancellor. All three local elected officials (Senator Avella, Assemblyman Braunstein, Councilman Vallone) have written letters supporting our goal.

Community Board 11 voted unanimously to write a letter to the chancellor asking for the return of the school to local District 26 students. So has the Queens Civic Congress, the umbrella organization representing close to 100 civic and community organizations in Queens County.

With all due respect, we can not understand why the superintendent of District 26 is not fighting for the return of PS 130 to District 26 when so many of the elementary schools in her district are overcrowded. The superintendent of District 25 should also be more proactive in fighting for new schools in her district where overcrowding is also commonplace. Perhaps it is just easier for them to accept the status quo.

Our goal is to ensure that all children in our area have a quality education in their own neighborhood. When you see children waiting for a school bus in all kinds of weather when they could just walk a few blocks to their local school, it just doesn’t make sense.

Decisions are being made by people in high places, who are not in touch with the concerns of our area.

We have waited for many years for the return of PS 130 to the local community. We may have to wait a little longer, but we will never give up until this outrageous inequity is corrected.

Terri Pouymari, President

Henry Euler, First Vice President

Auburndale Improvement Association, Inc.

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