Parents address kindergarten overcrowding in Forest Hills
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Apr 19, 2017 | 1933 views | 0 0 comments | 124 124 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In Forest Hills, a group of parents are hoping to create more kindergarten seats at P.S. 196 after dozens of children were waitlisted for the upcoming school year.

The Queens Community for Solutions to P.S. 196 Kindergarten Waitlist created an online petition to give kindergarten students a priority over pre-k students.

Addressing elected officials and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, the petition calls for a more permanent solution that would provide all zoned kindergarteners with a seat at the school.

Two years ago, parents created a similar petition that demanded the Department of Education find a long-term plan to adapt to the growing need for kindergarten seats in the community. While the issue was temporarily resolved, parents are upset that the issue has come up again.

Paulina Lee, Stephanie Johnson and Mary Sweeney are behind the new petition.

“As concerned parents, residents, and voters, we demand our children be allowed to attend their zoned schools this coming September and for that decision to be made in a timely fashion that would allow parents to properly prepare for the start of the school year,” the group stated on the petition.

About 60 children were waitlisted, despite 56 of them being zoned for the school, according to the group.

They are urging the Department of Education to eliminate the pre-K programs at both P.S. 196 and P.S. 303. In total, the two schools have three pre-K classes, which if eliminated could provide space to accommodate all incoming kindergarten children.

“While we support the pre-K program and believe in its value, it is not a mandatory program and has many other options besides public school resources,” the group said. “Our children entering into kindergarten only have the public schools in our communities.”

Additionally, the petition argues for the district-wide lottery placement at P.S. 303 to be eliminated. The group prefers to have the school set aside for children living in the neighborhood.

“We do not accept assigning our children to schools miles away when there is available space in their zoned neighborhood,” they said.

As of Monday evening, 110 people have signed the petition.

Resident Laurie Hanin said that her family lives one block from P.S. 196 and her children could not get in. The children were instead placed in a school a half-mile from their home.

“I have no way to get them there and home,” Hanin said. “Even though they are eligible for a bus it is not door to door and the bus stop is too far away.”

Lily Hudson found out that her child was put on the waitlist, and felt betrayed by the school that she and her family had a strong connection to.

“Myself and three other siblings went to 196, my mother ran the PTA,” Hudson said. “Now, when it is time for my children to go to their zoned school, they cannot.

“It’s a broken system,” she added. “I will probably end up moving, it's sad.”
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