Parents are still fighting for their calls for a middle school on Jamaica Avenue to be heard.
An elementary school is proposed for the 120-08 Jamaica Ave. site, which was formerly Rubie’s Costumer Company, but some parents say the need instead is for a middle school in the neighborhood.
“Parents are scrambling or leaving the community,” said Emilee Wyner, who is working to organize and rally families.
Wyner, a Richmond Hill mother and one of the heads of the Facebook group Parents of North Richmond Hill, met with Community Board 9’s Education Committee Monday on Zoom to get advice on holding a rally and pursuing other actions for the cause.
Community Board 9 has pledged to stand with the Richmond Hill group. In early April, the board voted in favor of a letter supporting a middle school at the site.
“While our board realizes that a new elementary school would help relieve overcrowding in our elementary schools, we strongly believe that we are in much greater need of a middle school at this site,” the letter read.
It also reiterated parent concerns including those in northern Richmond Hill not having a middle school in walking distance. The location would not be safe for elementary school children, they argue.
The Richmond Hill students are zoned for District 27 middle schools, some of which are far from the area, and although many District 28 schools are closer, they are harder for students get into.
The parents hope to appeal to Councilmember Lynn Schulman (D-Forest Hills). As the Council is in the midst of budget negotiations with a looming deadline, they say they haven’t been able to get time with Schulman and hope to before the primary this June.
“She has some wonderful middle school options but children here can’t attend those schools,” Wyner said, referring to the schools within District 28, which makes up most of Schulman’s district.
Board Chair Sherry Algredo said no one councilmember should decide what is best for a community and said the board will stand with the parents if it is for a rally or something else.
Now, the group is leaning toward a town hall for early June to voice these concerns and more, and hopes Schulman will be there.
Her office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
But time is ticking, the community board members pointed out. Carmela Isabella recommended that the group petition the PTAs of every elementary school in the area before the academic year ends.
And although the elementary school plans are still in the early stages, it could be too late to amend the existing plans and risk the sale of the building.
In February, Ben Goodman, an external affairs manager with the School Construction Authority, told the borough president’s Parent Advisory Board, “We are taking the concerns into account and we did hear folks loud and clear so we are going to see what we can do.”
The public comment period was open until March 8.
As of now, Kevin Ortiz, spokesman for the SCA, said there are no updates and that discussions are ongoing.
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