Astoria residents bash DOE plan for P.S. 122
by Andrew Pavia
Mar 13, 2013 | 810 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Parents, teachers and community members crowd the auditorium of P.S. 122 in protest of the DOE proposed plans.
Parents, teachers and community members crowd the auditorium of P.S. 122 in protest of the DOE proposed plans.
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A standing room-only crowd of hundreds of people packed into the auditorium of P.S. 122 groaned and yelled almost in unison, as representatives from the Department of Education (DOE) announced it will be making significant changes to P.S. 122, including adding a middle school to the building.

The new middle school will not welcome its first class until 2019, starting with the next batch of incoming kindergarteners at P.S. 122 in Astoria.

But the inclusion of a new middle school would put the school's capacity at 129 percent, according to the Parent-Teachers Association.

To facilitate the new students, staff at P.S. 122 said they believe it would force some students to eat lunch at 9:30 a.m.

Deborah Alexander, a parent of a P.S. 150 student, said that she was going to send her other child to P.S. 122, but won’t now.

“No one wants their child to eat at 9:30 in the morning,” she said. Alexander said that the DOE is “trying to fix a problem that does not exist” and called the action suspicious.

The addition of the middle school could force the school to cut down on some programs.

“I noticed that the arts, music and technology will be cut down,” said Lindsay James Soto, who attended P.S. 122 in the 90s. “A school without art, music, technology and a library that’s overcrowded, that’s not a school. That’s a prison.”

Along with the new middle school, the community was also upset that DOE plans to shrink the number of eligible candidates for the gifted and talented program.

At the moment, the school has three classes per grade, which would be reduced to one class per grade under the DOE proposal.

Alexander said that the gifted and talented program at P.S. 122 has enticed parents and families to move into the neighborhood.

“They are going to hurt probably the best program in the entire city,” said Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., who said he was optimistic DOE would reconsider the proposal. “I’m not all that worried that this is going to happen.”

DOE representative Savita Iyengar focused on the fact that students already enrolled in the school would be able to continue studying there. She said DOE would take the crowd’s concerns into consideration before making a final decision.

“We are here to collect questions, concerns and feedback and to take that back with us and come back with a response that explains the policy and rational,” she told the crowd.

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