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Melvyn Meer and Frank Skala attended the session at the board's headquarters at 46-21 Little Neck Parkway, with two representatives from the United Federation of Teachers union.Meer, a lawyer and the chairman of the education committee, said PS 130 at 200-01 42nd Ave. in Bayside was once shut down due to a decline in the District 26 student population, but is now needed as the district faces overcrowding in many schools."Twenty-five years ago, when there were not enough students in District 26, (the city) decided to close PS 130," Meer said. "It was finally taken over by the somewhat aggressive people in District 25." District 26, the best performing in the city, covers schools in Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks and parts of Auburndale, Fresh Meadows and Queens Village. District 25, ranked No. 2 in academic excellence, includes schools in Flushing, Whitestone, Bay Terrace and parts of Fresh Meadows.PS 130 is now a K-3 school available by lottery for District 25 students, with 275 seats for general education students. The building also services special education students in a separate program."What we have now is a situation where the kids are back," Meer said. "Kids living across the street from PS 130 are being bused to PS 31 or PS 159," the two closest District 26 elementary schools. Both of those schools are operating at more than 100 percent capacity, Meer said."Now the population of Bayside has increased and is going to continue to increase," said Skala, a civic leader and retired teacher. "There is a logical reason to put it back to District 26."Besides alleviating overcrowding at PS 159 and at PS 31, a school which United Federation of Teachers District 26 representative Daniel Feldman said was truly packed, by reclaiming PS 130 the city would save substantial amounts of money, Meer said. In a resolution he drafted that was approved by the other present committee member, Meer contended that the District 25 students are "almost all bused to PS 130 on yellow school buses paid for by the Department of Education," with an equal amount of "children residing in the vicinity of PS 130...bused to other schools on yellow school buses." The cost of busing the children to these schools is about $3,700 per student, Meer said. "The annual cost of busing children to and from PS 130 approaches $2 million and that figure compares with the entire general education budget of PS 130, which is currently $1,936,150," he wrote in the resolution, citing figures from City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz (D-Manhattan)'s studies and Department of Education statistics.The committee of two resolved that starting with the next academic year, the kindergarten class at the school "be afforded to the PS 130 zoned children on a priority basis, and that this process be repeated annually so that PS 130 is returned to the use of its neighborhood children in a gradual manner that does not inconvenience children already at PS 130."Meer will bring the resolution to the next board meeting on Feb. 7 for a full vote.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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