A city school rezoning proposal that would have reduced overcrowding at PS 49 in Middle Village – but increased the population at two nearby schools – was unanimously rejected by Community Education Council 24 members at their meeting last week.
CEC 24, a parents organization that oversees schools in Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Corona, has the final say on rezoning proposals, meaning last Wednesday’s vote stops the city’s plan dead in its tracks.
“It wasn’t a well thought-out plan,” CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni said. “They were trying to alleviate overcrowding at 49 but they wanted to alleviate it by putting kids into other schools that are over 100 percent capacity.”
In an attempt to cut the number of students at PS 49, which is now operating at about 131 percent capacity and is located at 63-60 80th St. in Middle Village, the city Department of Education had proposed to move some of PS 49’s pupils to nearby PS 128 at 69-10 65th Dr. in Middle Village and PS 102 at 55-24 Van Horn St. in Elmhurst. While parents said they wholly supported efforts to reduce class size – District 24 is the most overcrowded district in the city – but argued the city was only putting a band-aid on a problem because PS 128 is now operating at 118 percent capacity and PS 102 at 108 percent capacity, according to city statistics.
“Ideally we should build another extension at PS 49 – that’s one of the things we’ve proposed and they’re doing a feasibility study on that,” Comaianni said. “We’d like to find them an annex or space to use until this extension can be built.”
City education officials said the DOE has long been attempting to address packed classes in District 24.
“We will continue to work with the community and CEC to explore all options to help alleviate overcrowding,” said DOE representative Harry Hartfield.
There are currently four new elementary schools, one PS/IS building, and one middle school that are either in planning or under construction in District 24, which will add 4,211 seats to the district between September 2014 and September 2016.
In addition to the 4,211 seats under construction, the proposed capital plan calls for creating another 4,045 seats in seven new buildings in the district.
Link to map: CEC 24 rezoning map
By Anna Gustafson