KIPS BAY — Parents and teachers from P.S. 116 took their longtime fight against overcrowding to Community Board 6 Wednesday night, urging the board to pass a resolution that they say will help ease severe overcrowding at their elementary school.
The P.S. 116 crowd filled most of the standing-room-only meeting. The resolution, which was passed, proposed sending at least two kindergarten classes to P.S. 281, which is currently under construction as part of Sheldon Solow’s massive residential development project along the East River from East 35th to East 41st streets.
“We can’t keep cramming our children into a building,” said Eric Goldberg, a P.S. 116 parent and a member of the District 2 Community Education Council (CEC), which oversees his school.
“We’re at risk because we can’t keep eliminating specialty classes and programs,” Goldberg continued. “We’ve held on for too long, and we can’t do it any more.”
P.S. 281 is not scheduled to open until the 2013 school year. But the P.S. 116 parents propose that a process known as "incubating," which involves putting a class together for a school that is not completed, could ease the burden at their school while preparing kids for the new school.
The parents and teachers at P.S. 116, located on East 33rd Street between Second and Third avenues, argue that this strategy has been implemented successfully at other schools through Manhattan.
In order for this to occur, the Department of Education must rezone the district to include the new school in time for the 2012 school year to begin. That has yet to happen, the parents said.
The Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who has been working closely with the group from P.S. 116 on the overcrowding issues, noted that the school has forfeited its gifted and talented program as well as its Pre-K program in the past several years to accommodate the influx of new students.
“P.S. 116 has been burdened with capacity issues for years, and now that we have an opportunity to address them in a clear way, we should,” Garodnick said.
He added that his office will be making a formal request to the Department of Education to zone and incubate the new school one year before it officially opens.
Garodnick said that, as of yet, there is no designated space to house any incubated classes of students for the 2012 school year, and that he would urge the Department of Education to find one.
Beth Parise, a Community Board 6 member and the author of the resolution that was up for a vote Wednesday night, said she had identified the American Sign Language School on East 23rd Street as one possibility.
“We all feel so frustrated,” said Parise, the mother of a second-grader at P.S. 116.
“We have this opportunity to incubate, and we’ve identified a potential space,” she added. “And we have no idea why the [Department of Education] has ignored our repeated requests to get on the agenda.”
Parise said that last year, her son was in one of six first-grade classes composed of 21 or 22 students each.
This year, those six classes were combined to create four second-grade classes, each with more than 30 students.
“Something has got to give,” Parise said. “We can’t fit any more bodies into the space."