After hearing the city proposal to address overcrowding with a new elementary school in the heart of Bayside, Community Board 11 members renewed an old battle to bring back a school in Auburndale their district once had.
Instead of building onto the 48th Avenue property currently owned by Keil Bros. as proposed, the board suggested returning PS 130 to northeast Queens’ District 26, where it once belonged. Members have been pulling for the move for years since the school was relocated in the more western-based District 25 to address overcrowding in that district as well.
Even though PS 130 physically resides in District 26, students from District 25 are given preference for admittance, a city Department of Education spokesman said. Enrollment at the school has remained steady over recent years, a spokesman said.
But now with crowded schools of their own, CB 11’s Education Committee fired back at the proposal to allow more District 26 students to attend the 200-01 42nd Ave. school.
“Kids are bused in from around District 25, while local kids who live near the school are bused out to PS 31, PS 159 and PS 162, helping to cause overcrowding at these schools,” CB 11 member Melvyn Meer said. “The cost of all of this busing is enormous and unnecessary and is a blight on the neighborhood.”
CB 11 had visited the issue in years past and voted in 2010 to push for the school’s return.
The city School Construction Authority asked for comment at the board’s May meeting on plans to build a new school, only to be met with mostly concern and outrage. The discussion eventually grew rowdy with opposition and ended with city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott reprimanding the community board for using intimidation and threats to block the new Bayside school.
Before even beginning his presentation on the potential primary school, Site Selection Manager Christopher Persheff tried to dismiss any proposals to bring PS 130 back into the district. He said PS 130 was transferred to alleviate crowding in District 25 and returning it back to District 26 would not address Bayside’s needs.
“That happened some time ago,” Persheff said. “The issues that we have right now with overcrowding are in this area, specifically.”
The area he said had the most crowding was in the vicinity of Keil Bros. Garden Center, where the city has been in talks to buy the property. The center has been a mainstay in Bayside for nearly 85 years, but an owner there said a declining economy has forced him to consider selling and possibly relocating.
The City Council will make the final call on the new school.
CB 11 Education Committee Chairwoman Laura James said the board would not support any plans to build a primary school on the property and went on to suggest PS 130 as a worthy alternative in her group’s report.
Henry Euler, of the Auburndale Improvement Association, said his group was circulating a petition to reclaim PS 130 for District 26, even despite the city’s claims that the discussion was closed.
But bringing back PS 130 was not the only suggestion in months past. District 26’s Community District Education Council suggested the city consider the Leviton site, at 59-25 Little Neck Pkwy., as an ideal spot for a school, but the city deemed the site inaccessible.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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