By Bill Parry
The city’s Department of Education has reversed course on a plan that would have sent kindergarten students from overcrowded PS 78 in Long Island City to a school in Woodside, and instead are offering parents a new school site at Court Square.
After intense scrutiny from angry residents and civic groups like the Gantry Parents Association, the LIC Coalition and the Hunters Point Civic Association during two public meetings, the DOE is now offering a new location at the Jackson Avenue pre-K center, instead of using St. Teresa’s school on 50th Avenue in Woodside.
Kindergartners will use the “incubator site” located at 27-35 Jackson Ave. until construction on the new PS 375 elementary school on 57th Avenue, which is expected to open in 2021.
“Community engagement is a critical part of this process, and after listening to families and local elected officials, we developed a proposal to ensure students attending PS 384 next year can remain within their zone in District 30,” a DOE spokesman said.
State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City) called the DOE’s decision a “step in the right direction.” and said she would continue to advocate for the trailers that are currently near PS 78 to remain as a short-term solution to the overcrowding at the school. Nolan also called for more support from developers who have “personally benefitted from the construction in LIC” and more attention from city government to solve the overcrowding problem that has resulted from the unprecedented growth in the area.
“The long-term issues must be addressed by investing in our infrastructure, so that we can responsibly plan for additional schools, hospitals, public transit, adequate roads and green space as additional residents continue to move into our communities,” Nolan said. “My thanks again for the progress that has been made and I look forward to hearing feedback from parents.”
Meanwhile, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) is calling on the State Liquor Authority to reject the application of Armazen, Inc. to open a liquor store near Q972, the pre-K center and new home of the incubator site at 27-35 Jackson Ave. In his letter, sent to the SLA Monday, Gianaris highlighted the concerns of neighborhood parents who send their children to the pre-K at the site.
Last July, the SLA rejected an application by the same operator to open a liquor store at the same location.
“Our youngest children and their families should not be subject to the flow of traffic coming in and out of a liquor store during the school day,” Gianaris said. “I urge the SLA to listen to our community and reject this application again.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr