April is school notification month for NYC public schools, and this month, 50 families in Hunters Point received a letter that their child would not receive a Kindergarten seat in their zoned school. Instead, they would be wait listed for P.S.I.S. 78Q and bussed to another school outside of the district.
Just days later, community members learned that to address the over crowding in LIC’s District 30, the Department of Education will explore the possibility of shutting down the middle school grades of P.S./I.S. 78Q— a middle school that opened less than two years ago and serves grades 4-7, with 8th grade opening Fall 2015. Essentially, the Department of Education plans to eliminate a much needed school from our older students in order to provide space for our younger ones. Parents effected by both potential changes moved swiftly in creating a petitions to let our City government and the Department of Education know that changes must occur and quickly.
While some parents are focusing on the immediate risk of the elimination of the Middle school, there is another group of parents calling for a common good solution. One that demands another school (at least) be built in the Hunters Point and/or Court Square neighborhoods of LIC to accommodate the steadily growing population. Hundreds of parents have come together and are confronting our local politicians about the need for more schools in Long Island City. If you aren’t a parent, or don’t think this effects you as an LIC resident, please reconsider. Sheila Lewandowski, Executive Director of The Chocolate Factory Theatre, and a long time community advocate, put it this way in reference to the potential closing of the middle school:
“I am signing this because I believe that a healthy community needs schools and services for all grades & ages in addition to good transportation, parks, cultural activities, small businesses. I believe that the issue of a lack of available seats in the lower grades must be addressed immediately but NOT by reducing necessary services to another age group.”
An excerpt from the petition for a new school initiated by a Kindergarten parent, admonishes the city for developing the neighborhood so rapidly without an accompanying education infrastructure:
“Currently, our zoned school, P.S./I.S. 78 is not able to accommodate all of the children who are zoned. This year 50 zoned children were wait-listed for Kindergarten alone, due to the fact that Long Island City’s population is growing rapidly including the 8,600 apartment units that have been added to the neighborhood since 2006. This exponential growth continues. Currently, there are more than 22,500 apartment units in LIC either under construction or planned that must be approved by the City. We are not aware of any supporting school infrastructure in these plans.”
Please consider signing and sharing one or both petitions to keep the remaining schools in Hunters Point open, and build new ones. Let’s communicate to the DOE and our elected officials that there has to be a better way forward so that all of our children’s educational needs are met.