BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Some parents from Jackson Heights who have children ready to graduate from elementary school are concerned with a proposed rezoning they may face.
Changes to the zoning at IS 230, located at 71-10 34th Ave. and IS 145, located at 33-34 80th St., may impact students entering middle school in the 2015-16 school year.
On Jan. 13, representatives from the Dept. of Education’s Office of Portfolio Management, Superintendent Dr. Philip Composto, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and a representative from Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) attended the community meeting at IS 145 to explain the proposed zoning changes.
According to the representatives from the OPM, there is a need to alleviate overcrowding at Joseph Pulitzer School 145. To do this, the rezoning must account for the capacity of IS 230’s new annex, building Q297, located at 74-03 34th Ave., which is slated to open in Sept. 2014.
After considering the logistics of the area, in terms of the seat supply and demand, the OPM’s proposed rezoning goal is to equalize utilization across IS 230 and IS 145.
Jeff Guyton, Community District Education Council 30 co-president, said they have to continue finding places to build new schools, especially in overcrowded areas like Jackson Heights.
The CEC will vote on the proposed rezoning on Feb. 13, but before that takes place, Guyton said they have a month to read the community’s input, take another look at the proposed rezoning map and have more in-depth conversations with the OPM.
“We are open to community input,” he said. “That is why we are here.”
“Our goal on the CEC is to have smaller class sizes for all of our children and we know that our children are going to do amazingly when we can get only 20 or 19 children for each teacher,” Guyton said. “We are going to have a much more nurturing environment for all of our children, so this is the only way to do that.”
One of the big concerns the parents spoke about in terms of rezoning was the lack of a dual language programs at IS 230. The students who would have originally continued learning dual languages from elementary school after starting at their zoned middle school, IS 145, will now have to stop learning dual languages if they enter IS 230.
Marisa Bassi, Parent Teacher Association President at PS 89, said they will start a petition to advocate against the proposed rezoning.
“Even if a dual language program comes to 230, they don’t have the experience that 145 has,” she said. “I have a child here and another is coming, so I know how this school works and I will feel comfortable if my next child also comes here.”
Guyton said he understands why the lack of a dual language program at IS 230 is very important for the concerned families.
“The superintendent said he is going to have a conversation tomorrow about a dual language with the principal at 230,” he said.
Other concerned parents spoke about the issue of pedestrian safety because their children will have to walk further to attend IS 230, as opposed to IS 145.
Cristina Furlong, a member of the newly formed pedestrian safety group, Three Children Too Many, reminded everybody of the three students who died while walking in close proximity to the two schools.
“Will sufficient crossing guards be allocated to the new school?” she said.
She also asked if the DOT will offer a school safety plan and if there will be a 15-mile-per-hour safety zone surrounding the new school.
Jillian Rowland, an associate planner at the OPM, said every year, every school works on a school safety plan. “The safety of the children is our number one priority,” she said.
Schools impacted by the rezoning include IS 145, IS 230, PS 69, PS 148, PS 149, PS 152, PS 212, PS 222 and PS 228.
Parents are welcome to submit their concerns to the CEC at CEC30@schools.nyc.gov, before Feb. 13.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.