Plan to Bus P.S. 11 Students to Astoria Gets 'Chaotic' Start

By Jeanmarie Evelly and Katie Honan  on September 5, 2014 8:49am

 Parents pick up their kindergarteners at P.S. 11 on the first day of school Thursday afternoon. The kindergarten students are being bused to P.S. 171 for class this year as a new addition is being built at P.S. 11.
Parents pick up their kindergarteners at P.S. 11 on the first day of school Thursday afternoon. The kindergarten students are being bused to P.S. 171 for class this year as a new addition is being built at P.S. 11.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

WOODSIDE — A plan to send kindergarten students from P.S. 11 to a school in Astoria while an addition is built at their Woodside building got off to a rocky start on the first day of school, as parents complained of buses showing up late and a "chaotic" scene Thursday morning.

"It was terrible," said one mother who was waiting for her child to return to the school Thursday afternoon, who declined to give her name. "It's not what you want on the first day of school."

The Department of Education is busing 135 kindergarten students from P.S. 11 at 54-25 Skillman Ave. to P.S. 171, located about three miles away, while an addition is built at the Woodside school — a move that was met with resistance from elected officials last spring who said the Astoria school is too far away.

The permanent addition being built at P.S. 11 is expected to take three years to complete and will fit 856 students, replacing a mini-building at the school, according to the DOE's plan.

The P.S. 11 kindergarten students will be sent to P.S. 171 during the first year of construction, and then to another new school that's being built closer to P.S. 11 for the two years after that.

On Thursday afternoon, parents were lined up outside P.S. 11 on Skillman Avenue waiting for their children to return from P.S. 171, as multicolored cones cordoned off part of the road.

"It was crazy this morning. It wasn't organized like it is now. Even the kids got startled," said one mother, who said she only received a letter with busing details the week before.

Another mother, who did not want to give her name, said the buses had been late that morning and that cars were double-parked.

"It was chaotic, a mad house. No order whatsoever," she said.

In an email, a Department of Education spokeswoman said three buses are scheduled to take the kindergarten students from the school each day no less than a half hour before class starts.

"Buses may have been delayed this morning, but we are confident that the service is safe and efficient," the spokeswoman said. 

She added that DOE personnel will be on-site in the morning to ensure "coordination and organization" and will work with school staff to help if needed.

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