April 28, 2015 By Christian Murray
Long Island City parents have put political leaders and education officials on notice– after discovering earlier this month that the waitlist for children zoned to go to kindergarten at PS/IS 78 is long.
Several parents, upset by the revelation that there is a 50-child waitlist, have started a petition calling on the Department of Education to build more schools. Another group has created a petition to let the department know that they don’t want middle school students at PS/IS 78 to be pushed out–as a means to create additional space for the younger grades.
PS/IS 78 currently has four kindergarten classes, which can accommodate about 100 kids, according to the Department of Education. However, most parents say that more classes are needed.
“We really need another school,” said Jackie Freund, co-president of the PS/IS 78 PTA. “It’s getting ridiculous. There are so many apartments going up.”
Freund said that parents have also heard that that Department of Education is considering the possibility of phasing out grades 6 through 8 to make room for additional classrooms for lower grades.
However, the Department of Education said Tuesday that it has no plans to eliminate the middle school grades at the school. The kindergarten admission process has been a problem at PS 78 in recent years.
While fewer than 10 zoned children were waitlisted last year, there were 31 kids on wait lists in 2013, which prompted the department to add another kindergarten class.
The Department of Education said that all the families who applied to kindergarten this year were offered a seat somewhere in the system–whether it be at PS 78 or other schools in District 30, which also covers Sunnyside and sections of Woodside.
Furthermore, waitlists fluctuate as some children end up going to private or parochial schools, enroll in a G&T program or even move away.
“We are continuing to work with families in this school community to ensure that every student has a high-quality kindergarten education,” DOE spokesman Jason Fink said in a statement.
But many parents are demanding more schools, which they say is the only real solution.
Jill Tangen, a parent and co-owner of elska (formerly LIC Living), started a petition about 12 hours ago calling for more schools. The petition, which has generated more than 150 signatures so far, reads (click for petition):
“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.”
Meanwhile, possible solutions–such as phasing out the middle school grades in order to make way for additional classrooms for lower grades–have caused much anxiety.
A petition, with 470 signatures, was formed a few days ago that addresses parents’ concerns on that matter (click for petition):
“The much needed increase of Kindergarten and elementary school classes in Long Island City’s growing community CANNOT BE ACHIEVED at the expense of the existing PS/IS 78Q’s middle school grades. We are deeply saddened and shocked to have recently learned that the Department of Education is considering the removal / repurposing/ or phasing out of PS/IS 78 Q’s 6th through 8th grade sections in order to make way for additional classrooms for the lower grades.”