Schools in Woodside are notoriously overcrowded. So when the Department of Education’s School Construction Authority announced that it would build a new school and add on to PS 11 on Skillman Avenue, many parents were thrilled.
But now, the SCA has decided to construct the annex first followed by the brand new PS 339, leaving PS 11 without enough space to accommodate the incoming kindergartners.
Martin Connolly, who has one son in kindergarten at PS 11, was not happy when he heard that his son would be bused 2.5 miles away to Astoria to attend PS 171.
“Now I have one child at PS 11 and another all the way at PS 171,” Connolly said. “I understand the annex needs to be built, but the timing just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Connolly would like the SCA to revert back to the original plan so that his younger son would be sent to the brand new PS 339, less than .5 mile away.
“I feel that there’s been no communication between the city and the parents,” Connolly said. “Why weren’t the parents involved? Why weren’t we asked to contribute when they were deciding this?”
According to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s (D-Sunnyside) office, other than Connolly, the councilman has not received many complaints. In fact, many parents were thrilled with the project.
Van Bramer’s office did acknowledge that any project will have some growing pains no matter when it begins, but assured parents that there would be a meeting for all involved parties to share their concerns and ideas.
But Connolly isn’t taking any chances and has begun handing out fliers informing parents that the annex will be closed this coming summer and that any incoming kindergartner will be co-located to Astoria.
“The councilman and the Department of Education may be talking but they aren’t telling the people who need to know. There are parents who are expecting to have their child attend PS 11 in September. I think they have a right to know early that it won’t be the case.”
Despite several requests, the Department of Education refused to respond to Connolly’s concerns but instead confirmed that the project would go on as expected.
“Our time line for the addition remains: The time line calls for demolishing the mini building this coming summer of 2014 and then we will begin construction,” the spokesman said. “Anticipated completion is September 2016.”
A town hall meeting is being planned for mid to late January before a final decision on what to do with the children who would normally attend class in the annex.
“Even if they got creative with it, I’d be fine with that,” Connolly said. “There’s the library nearby and they have rooms, maybe they can put them there. They’re babies so putting them in a small room or a bigger class doesn’t bother me. It’d only be a few months, but to travel that distance to Astoria is going to be hard for parents who have a child going to PS 11 and then have to drive or walk or take a train somewhere else.”