Jan. 25, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The city is proposing to send some would-be P.S. 78 kindergarteners to a separate “incubator school” for several years to simultaneously end overcrowding at the Hunters Point School while building up a student body that will eventually move into the new elementary school opening in the neighborhood in 2021.
P.S. 375, a 612-seat elementary school planned for soon-to-be 57th Avenue, is set to open in three years from now, but the DOE is already pushing for a plan that tries to close the gap between the new school’s opening and accommodating students there from P.S. 78, which has faced overcrowding since it added more kindergarten classes than it could hold years ago to satisfy community demand.
Under the DOE’s plan, some students that applied to kindergarten at P.S.78 for the 2018-2019 school year could be selected to go to a small school building at St. Teresa’s in Woodside instead, which would effectively be an incubation site for P.S.375 until the actual building opens in Sept. 2021, according to Deborah Alexander, co-president of the Community Education Council for District 30.
Three kindergarten classes would be moved to St. Teresa’s in Sept. 2018, and students will attend classes there up until the second grade. And just like a regular school, new students will continue to move in as the original class moves ahead in grade level.
By Sept. 2021, all of the students at the St. Teresa school will then move to the newly built P.S.375 school.
It is unclear how the DOE will determine which students will head to St. Teresa for the 2018-2019 school year, and how the enrollment process will work for subsequent years at the proposed incubation site.
Other proposals include sending students to a site in Astoria, the same distance that St. Teresa’s is from P.S. 78, or truncating P.S. 78 so that it goes up to grade five instead of grade eight. The DOE, however, thinks the St. Teresa plan is best, according to Alexander.
The three proposals will be presented during a community meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 at P.S. 78, located at 46-08 5th St. The meeting, organized by the DOE and the District 30 superintendent, will be a chance for residents and parents to learn about the impacts of the proposals, and to offer feedback on them.
Some parents have already started to express concerns over the proposals and the prospect of sending their children to a location more than two miles away from Hunters Point.
“Parents have told me they’re concerned about transportation,” said Kadie Black, board chair of the Gantry Parent Association. “They’re concerned about after school options, and they’re concerned about the proximity if there’s an emergency.”
“We hope that there will be several opportunities for families to have their voices heard or to give their input, not just this one meeting,” Black added.
Alexander said that the DOE is pushing for a solution to come about before Sept. 2018, and that the proposals are only step one in coming up with a plan that works for everyone. “It’s absolutely not a done deal,” she said.