Crowley, Gianaris, Nolan, Markey and Van Bramer Denounce Department of Education Decision to Relocate Students from P.S. 11 in Woodside to P.S. 171 in Astoria

February 25, 2014
Press Release

P.S. 11 building expansion to displace kindergarteners to a temporary location almost three miles away

(Queens, N.Y.) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) along with NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, NYS Assembly Members Catherine Nolan, Margaret Markey, and NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, were joined by P.S. 11 parents at a press conference to denounce the NYC Department of Education’s (DOE) final recommendation to bus students from P.S. 11 in Woodside to P.S. 171 in Astoria, despite concerns it places a significant burden on parents and their young children.

The officials were informed of DOE’s decision on Monday. Last month, the officials sent a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña urging the DOE to reassess their plan to relocate the students while P.S. 11’s mini-building expansion is completed.

“I am truly disappointed the DOE has decided to move forward on a plan to bus kindergarteners to a school almost three miles away - an extraordinary hardship for Woodside families,” said Rep. Joe Crowley. “While the expansion of P.S. 11 is a crucial investment in our children’s education, we cannot allow its construction to displace our youngest students so far from home. I call on the DOE to reconsider their decision and find a creative solution to do right by these students and their families.”

“The planned expansion for P.S. 11 is a giant step in the fight against school overcrowding, but the DOE seems intent on making the worst out of a great situation by ignoring the concerns of students and parents,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “All of us here today are ready to work together to find a solution without making parents’ lives harder, but the DOE does not seem interested in listening.”

“The Department of Education needs to take into consideration the concerns of our many families and young children who attend this great school” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.  “I urge the Department to re-think this decision and come back with a better plan with input from the community.” 

“This decision is a cruel and heartless one,” said Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. “It seems impossible to me that after we called it to their attention that the DOE is deliberately choosing to send these youngest P.S. 11 children on a three mile bus ride at rush hour in their first year at school. All of us join with their parents to plead once again for the Chancellor to intervene to reconsider this ill-advised busing plan and find alternative space for these young P.S. 11 children closer to home.”

“It is the responsibility of the Department of Education to hear the concerns of the parents and children of P.S. 11 in Woodside,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “The Department of Education’s decision to relocate over 230 kindergarten students to PS 171 in Astoria will disrupt the lives of countless families. I strongly urge the Department of Education to reconsider our proposal and transport the students who will be displaced during the construction of the new annex at P.S. 11 to PS 313 in Sunnyside this fall. Parents believe this is the best option for their children, and I highly recommend the Department of Education reevaluate their decision.”

P.S. 171 is a half-hour bus ride away from P.S. 11 and is over seven blocks from the nearest subway station, a large inconvenience for parents who need to travel to the school in case of an emergency.

Congressman Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.