Jan. 31, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Parents and residents of the neighborhood poured into last night’s community meeting planned by the DOE at PS/IS 78 to harshly criticize the agency for its “unacceptable” plan that would send kindergarteners to a building in Woodside as a way to address school overcrowding.
Under the DOE’s proposal, officially announced last night, a school building located at 50-15 44th St. would begin to take in some PS78-bound kindergarteners in September 2018 to form part of a new school, PS384. The Woodside building, however, would only act as the temporary site for PS384 until 2021, when the actual PS384 school building slated for 57th Ave. is completely built.
Incoming kindergarteners will be selected to attend the Woodside location based on admissions priorities outlined by the city, which includes factors like zoning and whether a student already has a sibling at PS/IS78. All students heading to the proposed site would be bused there.
The proposal is one of three, and includes undergoing the same process with a building in Astoria, or truncating PS/IS78 so it only goes until the 5th grade instead of 8th grade. The DOE is advocating for the Woodside plan as opposed to the other two.
But the crowd at last night’s two-hour meeting shut down the DOE’s foremost plan, and confronted the agency on its lack of transparency in communicating its intentions sooner with the community.
“As a community we demand transparency and timely communication and inclusion for any DOE proceedings and decision-making that impacts our community,” said the Gantry Parent Association and the school’s PTA in a joint statement at the meeting.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City), who attended the meeting, said he, too, was blindsided by the DOE’s proposal. “You all deserve better,” Van Bramer said to parents. “I think that’s the tone we should set.”
Meeting attendees, some carrying large signs in protest of the DOE, were left even more appalled and angered as Dr. Philip Composto, community superintendent of District 30, began the presentation not by introducing the city’s proposal, but by answering questions some had posted on social media about it first, based on information by the Gantry Parent Association and the LIC Post.
Van Bramer called the meeting’s organization a “disaster”.
“I apologize if you thought it was rushed,” Composto said, adding that up until two weeks ago, the site in Astoria was the only place available to potentially move students into. He added that PS/IS 78 simply cannot accommodate any more students, and that something had to be done before the upcoming school year.
“This is our first meeting. We are not doing this until September. If we can come together and find a better solution, I’m on board,” he said.
While the meeting was meant to inform the community on the proposal and to receive feedback, many understood the plan to already be in motion, and took the opportunity to tell the DOE that Woodside would never be considered a viable option. Reasons for rejecting the Woodside location include its distance from Hunters Point, especially if an emergency occurs, concerns with sending five-year-olds on buses, and the overall point of not being able to walk to school, as the former DOE chancellor Carmen Fariña promised would be a priority.
Parents and residents also demanded to know why its taken years for the city to come up with an unfavorable plan when overcrowding in the neighborhood was long foreseen.
“Some of the questions we want to know is why, three years ago—when we broke ground on all of these high rises—you and elected officials didn’t put your heads together and put this on the board for 2018?” asked a parent of a four-year-old currently at the Pre-K TCU site. The question, like many that night, was met with applause by attendees.
Some attendees also proposed looking at empty lots around Hunters Point where a school could be built, or using unoccupied floors from nearby community centers to house the students, as an alternative to sending five-year-olds to a building two miles away.
Composto and other members of the DOE explained that school siting is decided by the School Construction Authority, and that the agency has a particular set of guidelines for selecting suitable places to bring schools.
Another popular plan called for additional trailers to be brought near the school, as is the case with the current Pre-K center at 49th Avenue, made up of temporary classroom units.
But that too was also the subject of controversy, as it was revealed that the city intends on doing away with the temporary classroom units for the 2018-2019 school year, and send the Pre-K students there to the Jackson Avenue Pre-K center in Court Square. Last night’s meeting, however, was mainly intended to discuss the Woodside location and kindergarteners heading there.
Van Bramer announced at the meeting that he would meet with the mayor’s office today to make it “loud and clear” that the DOE’s favored plan will not work with the community.
“I informed them that the plan the DOE came up with was outrageous and insulting,” he told the LIC Post. “They have to go back to the drawing board and come up with real solutions that would keep these very young children going to school in their own neighborhood.”
Van Bramer added that members of the mayor’s office will go over potential solutions once more, and will communicate their findings to him and the community soon.
In the meantime, the Gantry Parent Association, in unison with several Long Island City civic groups, is hosting a follow up meeting on Sunday, Feb. 4, to continue discussing solutions. The meeting will be held at the Irish Center, located at 1040 Jackson Ave., at 10 a.m.
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Kindergartners at PS11 faced this same fate in 2014 and were bused to PS171 in Astoria due to construction. My daughter was one of them and was 4 at the start of the school year. All parents were upset about it, but the kids were FINE. The teachers and administration of PS11 took care of every child and the kids LOVED riding the school bus. They didn’t know any different. Kids are far more adaptable then we give them credit for.
I’m sure the administration and teachers of PS/IS 78 will take care of these students too.
The people that should be upset about this plan are those living near St.Teresa’s. Enjoy the bus fumes and traffic every day.
Is that “where’s our schools” sign supposed to be sarcastic? Is that “wtf” sign supposed to be a joke? Sure hope so.
There is truth to all these points. With time and bureaucratic constraints at this point, maybe the once not-so-appealing use of trailers can seriously be looked at again. If you have ever actually been inside of one that the DOE uses, the ones I saw were ” just like classrooms”. Our child rode a bus for a few years to a school& afterschool & it was ok,yes, but came home very tired. They allowed this older, anxious mom (me) to ride along one day. Kids talked, laughed,etc, but with all the stops, time for getting on and off ,etc, it did seem tiring, even for an adult.Btw, Variety Girls & Boys Club of Queens has a free afterschool program, open til 7 p.m. Perhaps a travel arrangement can be worked out with them. They fill up fast.But again, then you are talking bus rides to school, bus ride to a program, bus ride home..Does St Teresa have an afterschool program?
I don’t have a suggestion for where people should move. Everyone has to figure that out based on their own circumstances. IMHO good school districts should be able to accommodate the majority of their population and grow with their populations. Planning 101. This situation we are now facing in LIC has been brewing for literally years. We have one small elementary school for an enormous and ever-growing zone. My point was simply if people really did their homework that should have been obvious. A few schools are planned but as people at the meeting pointed out, by the time they’re built they’ll already be too small for the number of people who will be living here at that stage. And so the problem continues.
Exactly. People should have thought about this before they moved here. It’s a typical mentality recently: people show up in a new place and demand that it suddenly conforms to their needs. It’s a disgusting attitude of entitlement.
I am a mother of a preschool kid and am not at all keen on the idea of her going on a school bus to Woodside next year. I wonder if DOE can make exceptions to zoning rules for students who come from high density areas like LIC? They should look into issuing vouchers for parents who are willing to shuttle their children to schools in other areas. There are schools close to the ferry stops, like the River School. Would they be able to handle the overflow? I know this probably appeals only to the very few, but this is something I am willing to do until the new school is built.
What is wrong with Woodside? Have you ever even been there? It’s a lovely neighborhood and super close to LIC.
Just curious- so you’d rather your child go on a boat than on a 2 mile bus ride?
While I TOTALLY empathize with the inconvenience of having your child have to leave the neighborhood; this begs the question- what is so horrible about Woodside that you would rather send your child across a river to another borough to avoid it….. Perhaps go out and check out Sunnyside and Woodside, I assure you it isn’t too scary.
Why is it so hard for some people when hearing news that affects others (not them) negatively to just say, “oh that sucks, sorry to hear that” or nothing at all? Is that empathy? Why do I ask, and read the comment sections? Also please I don’t care if its effect/affect. No one can spell anymore, and they don’t teach it at PS78 or whatever school my children may be going to next year.
born and raised in NYC and was put on a school bus to elementary school (starting in first grade) which was a good 3 miles from my parents apartment. Maybe these snowflakes need a little more grit to them, over in super scary and really far away woodside. While they’re there, head to donato’s for a yummy afterschool slice!
Exactly. It’s all these transplant parents that are desperate to give their kids a suburban upbringing, despite the fact they live in the city. God forbid their spoiled little offspring should grow up with any personality and character.
It is scary for parents to let kindergarteners on a bus to go to school. Yes, there should have been much more forethought on the part of the School Construction Authority. It would be easier all around if PS78 remained as an elementary school, as originally intended. Move the middle schoolers to a middle school. However, the parents should check out where the Woodside school is. Former St. Teresa’s is in a nice neighborhood.
The current PS/IS 78 was built as a K-8 school and the program and classrooms were built around it. If you want to go by what it was originally supposed to be then the current plan follows that: Removing the K classes that were not part of that original plan. I agree though, people should go look at the school in Woodside, maybe it’s not so bad. Either way, you can can make oversimplified statements because you don’t care about the Community outlook beyond the next 2 years or you can focus on something bigger than where kids go right now. The fact is that LIC needs more schools at all levels. You take away what it has and what people have fought for, and you kill the community. Maybe some people want that but they’re probably not the ones who are planning to stick around.
Just for the record, as a parent of 2 kids who could be affected by this, Woodside has absolutely nothing to do with parents being upset. It is about little kids that were going to be walked to school and who can be near family or nannies in the case of an emergency. Not to mention, this was not handled well at all.
Get a grip. Do you know why they are called school buses? And proximity to nannies? Are you kidding me?
The politician also did nothing. All he did was come out at the end and blamed DOE while he was not proactive to look after these potential issues himself.
Aren’t these the same buildings with tax abatements in which government agencies like the DOE doesn’t get more money to do things like build more schools? Color me unsympathetic. You get what you pay for.
renters don’t get abatements.
Partially true, you are paying a rate the owner feels comfortable they can make a profit on while low enough to attract people to their properties. Receiving abatements help balance that out.
Bravo, Jason. Well said.
That was a great summary. Thanks LIC Post.
Go Jimmy! Jimmy for mayor. Composto needs to go. Runs a meeting to solicit feedback as if the decision has been made and he is just waiting for the meeting to be over so he can go on with business as usual. Disgusting attitude.
Oh please jimmy knows what’s going on he pushed for all the developments. He knew the neighborhood is underserved and over populated
Van Bramer does know and has tried to fight for a solution but hasn’t been heard. He was blindsided by this ludicrous DOE proposal. I believe he’ll turn this around real quick. Keep LIC kids in LIC!
Short term solution:
1. create more TCUs and find more space in these new apartment buildings, open lots, etc.
2. Since most high school kids are being bused in or already taking the subway already, move those kids to Woodside or other overflow zoned schools. Keep our young LIC kids in a real walking distance.
Go Jimmy? Are you stupid or dumb?
JVB has everyone convinced he is on their side and he didn’t know anything. BS.
If he spent half the amount of time on the school problem as he did with his anti-trump crusade or his library gospel preaching, we would’ve had another school built already. He said we deserve both a high tech library and schools. That’s great but we don’t live in a perfect world. You ask me which is more important and I choose schools over libraries any day of the week including the weekends.
His appearance on Tuesday evening was damage control for his reputation and future mayoral bid and nothing more. He said himself that even though he knew about the meeting he wasn’t going to come. That others advised him not to because parents were angry. He stated himself that a vice chairmen (so angry I didn’t even remember the name of who he stated) asked him to come. That is why he came. Not because this was a pressing enough concern of his to show up. Someone asked him to go and that’s why he came. Open your eyes people. Until JVB makes this his #1 priority and acts as such, he is NOT a friend.
The kids should always come first, right? F that. The library is for everyone, including your kids. If you don’t like it, move.
So thousands of rich people move to fancy condos in LIC, a previously industrial neighborhood known for not having many public schools… and now they are pissed that their kids have to wait for a public school to be built? Poor babies! And seriously, what “Woodside” school is like 5 blocks from the LIC border. They’ll survive.
First off, rich is a stretch. This is NYC and the people who live here are NYC upper middle class. Rich people don’t rent $3,000 a month apartments. Second, when we moved here 5 years ago, there were enough seats for the children but the DOE has not been keeping up with the population growth. Third, I hear a lot of whining and complaining about the subways. Is it OK for people to complain about overcrowding on the subways but not in the schools. Fourth, they waited to tell people about this plan till after the deadline to apply for schools. Fifth, you sound really bitter and immature.
6th, LIC is mostly rentals, not Condos.
To provide some context – families have been asking the DOE for a solution for, literally, years. In addition, parents already submitted their Kindergarten application days before this incubation plan was announced. Prospective PreK parents were also just told the DOE is removing classrooms from the neighborhood. So, please keep those thing in mind before calling these parents “entitled” or “spoiled”. Families have been asking for years for elected officials and the Department of Education to take steps to plan for this day and they have not.
As a previous LIC resident, I can speak from experience.
When we had our child, we did our research and realized the infrastructure was NOT going to be in place in time for us to raise a family there. So we moved to a close and maybe less sexy neighborhood with great schools…….sometimes you have to make sacrifices & do your homework.
And yes, scary Woodside is only 2 miles away. While inconvenient, it wont’ be that huge a deal.
Yes it will be inconvenient – try dropping off one kid at Woodside and another at daycare in Hunter’s Point. And what about after-school programs – they won’t bus kids back at 5.45 which is when those generally end, buses will only run in the morning and at 2.30 when school ends.
Also, what worked for you in your “less sexy” neighbourhood may not work for others. People have actually made sacrifices to move to a good school district such as LIC after doing their homework – and are now being told they will have to take their kids to another zone.
Giselle, there’s NO WAY anyone who did their homework moved here believing there was adequate schooling for their young kids. This has been a growing issue for years. I do feel badly for parents who would potentially have their littles bussed to a school they don’t choose but saying you did your homework doesn’t cut it.
Most of the “good schools” in this city are over subscribed. The choices as I see it are – move to a crowded but good school zone in NYC, a not-crowded but not so good school in NYC or move to NJ/CT. Where would you suggest people move in NYC that has good schools with plenty of seats available after doing your homework?
You must not have read my post. The assistant principal told parents on a school tour that they had always managed to accommodate families in the past. So relying on the assistant principal’s guidance IS part of due diligence.
Hold Up, I’m curious. Did you do your school tour and talk to the Asst. Principal before or after you moved to the neighborhood?
Stop complaining, Giselle. Nobody cares about your sob story, and your claims of hardship are laughable. Do us all a favor and move to the midwest or something.
Went on the kindergarten tour at 78 and the assistant principal said there would be space, that they always were able to make space, DoE always makes it a priority for kids to attend their zoned school. She said all of these things. What she didn’t say was that “zoned school” can mean Woodside.
Maybe you should write a book about how great you are and about an entire neighborhoods lack of sacrifice, experience and planning! You should be our leader!
It may be 5 blocks from the LIC border, but it’s quite a distance away from Hunter’s Point and even Court Square, the MTA sucks and walking that far is not really an option for a 5 year old. Is the DOE going to provide transportation for the afterschool program – you know that most kids that have working parents attend once school is done?
Excellent post, Queenskick. Couldn’t agree more. All these spoiled people upset about a trip just a few blocks away.