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Parents call on DOE to create more seats in five-year plan

PS 2 student Jenna Bajamonte (c.) demands resources for her school at a CDEC 30 meeting. Council Co-President Isaac Carmignani (l.) and Monica Gutierrez of the city DOE listen as she speaks. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

About 100 parents, administrators and students from PS 2 in Astoria Heights and PS 11 in Woodside demanded more consideration for their overcrowded schools at a Community District Education Council 30 meeting in Jackson Heights last Thursday.

“One of the reasons all of us are here is to make sure our children have a good education and a good environment,” said Anna Efkarpides, principal of PS 11, at 54-25 Skillman Ave.

As part of its monthly meeting, held at PS 212, at 34-25 82nd St., CDEC 30 hosted a presentation of the five-year plan for the district.

Monica Gutierrez, of the city Department of Education, said the district — which encompasses Astoria, Long Island City, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and a huge section of Woodside — needs 2,963 additional seats throughout the next five years.

Some of those seats will be added through the development of the former Blessed Sacrament School into PS 280, at 34-20 94th St. in Jackson Heights; IS 230 in Jackson Heights; PS/IS 312 in Ravenswood; and an addition to PS 70 in Astoria, but 1,378 seats are still needed in the district, Gutierrez said.

She suggested those at the meeting continue to suggest space in the district where schools could be built.

“I would also like to add that nothing is set in stone,” Gutierrez said.

People at the meeting from PS 11 and PS 2, at 75-10 21st Ave., protested that their schools had not gotten their due consideration in the five-year plan. PS 11 was set for an expansion, which had been put on a previous plan, but the expansion had been removed.

“We need an answer for PS 11,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who came to the meeting in support of the school.

Efkarpides said PS 11 is starved for space. Children are sometimes taught in the hallways, in the locker rooms and in the showers. The modular unit they are using has also deteriorated. Tiles have fallen on kids’ heads and some teachers have fallen through the floor.

“We cannot have children being hurt,” Efkarpides said. “We cannot have staff members being hurt.”

Those from PS 2, many of whom came out in blue shirts with their school’s logo, told a similar story.

Amy Goldman, assistant principal of PS 2, said the school was built in 1935 for a small community and was created without an auditorium and is using a multi-purpose room for the cafeteria. The modular it has was a hand-me-down it received 16 years ago that has never been replaced and its ramp, one of the few places for wheelchair access, is decaying.

“The modular is just gross,” said Jenna Bajamonte, a fifth-grader at the school.

She said the modular should be knocked down.

Gutierrez recommended those who wanted more services for the schools submit them as priorities to the five-year plan.

Jennifer Harper, a member of CDEC 30, insisted that members submit PS 2 as their first choice and PS 11 as their second choice for priorities to the DOE, however.

“These parents have been coming to our meetings,” Harper said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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