Crowley, Nolan, Markey and Gianaris Urge Schools Chancellor to Reconsider Relocation Plan for P.S. 11 Students
P.S. 11 building expansion to displace kindergarteners to a temporary location almost three miles away
(Queens, N.Y.) – On January 17th, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) along with Assembly Members Catherine Nolan, Margaret Markey and NYS Senator Michael Gianaris sent a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña urging the Department of Education to reconsider their plan to bus students from P.S. 11 in Woodside to a temporary location in Astoria while the school’s mini-building expansion is completed.
While the announcement of the new construction to ease overcrowding at the school is welcome news, the proposed plan to bus the displaced students to P.S. 171 in Astoria places a significant burden on parents and their young children.
The elected officials write in the letter of their shared concern with, “the psychological effects on the incoming kindergarten class since they could potentially attend three different schools in three consecutive years.”
“While the expansion of P.S. 11 in Woodside is a necessary investment in our children’s education, we need to ensure that its construction is as least disruptive as possible to our families,” said Rep. Joe Crowley. “I urge the Department of Education to work with the parents in our community on finding a suitable location for their children that is closer to home.”
“I would hope the Department of Education would take into consideration the concerns of families of young children,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.
"We plead with the Department of Education to reconsider this busing plan and look closer to home for alternative space for these young P.S. 11 children,” said Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. “A three-mile bus ride at rush hour is no way for children to begin their first year in school. The entire school community is delighted that the DOE is finally moving forward with this long-awaited construction, but there must be a better alternative location for these kindergarteners."
“All of us are thrilled P.S. 11 will eventually benefit from this much-needed expansion, but current students and parents must not be forced to suffer in the meantime,” said NYS Senator Gianaris. “The DOE has taken a giant step in the fight against school overcrowding with this planned expansion, but rather than ruin a good thing, we should work together towards a solution that will give our children the learning experience they deserve without forcing them to travel miles to get it.”
The full text of the letter to Chancellor Fariña is below:
Chancellor Carmen Fariña
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers St.
New York, NY 10007
January 17, 2014
Dear Chancellor Fariña,
We are seeking your help on behalf of the children who will be attending P.S. 11 in Woodside, Queens. Given the overcrowding at the school, we are pleased that the school is being expanded. However, we are concerned about the DOE’s plan to bus P.S. 11 kindergarteners to a temporary location at P.S. 171 in Astoria, almost three miles away. We believe this temporary location is too far and will place an extraordinary hardship on parents and their young children and we ask that DOE find a closer alternative.
As you know, it can be incredibly difficult for working families to juggle their children’s daily schedule. In the case of P.S. 11, busing the children to Astoria will be a tremendous burden on P.S. 11 families, especially for those with more than one child attending the school. These families enrolled their children in the school with the intention of having them in the same building all day; now, their kindergartener will be bused through the busy streets of Queens to a location almost three miles away. In addition, P.S. 171 is a half-hour bus ride away from P.S. 11 and is over seven blocks from a subway station, a large inconvenience for hard-working parents who need to travel to the school in case of an emergency. We are also concerned about the psychological effects on the incoming kindergarten class since they could potentially attend three different schools in three consecutive years.
We recognize that delaying this construction could put the funding at risk and we do not want the school to miss out on the critical expansion. We also understand P.S. 11 is located in District 30 and any displaced children are typically relocated to other schools within the same school district. However, in the best interests of the children and families in our community, we respectfully request you reconsider the decision to move the students to P.S. 171 and instead explore a location closer to P.S. 11, even if that location is in neighboring District 24.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.
Joseph Crowley, Member of Congress
Catherine Nolan, NYS Assembly
Margaret Markey, NYS Assembly
Michael N. Gianaris, NYS Senate
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.