LONG ISLAND CITY — A new parents' group is pushing the city to build more schools in Hunters Point, citing competition for pre-k and kindergarten seats at the only public elementary school in the growing neighborhood.
The Gantry Parent Association formed last month to advocate for education issues in Hunters Point and Court Square, where parents say the existing local school is not big enough to keep up with the explosion in residential development in recent years.
"Every year it's a concern about how many [school] seats are going to be available," the group's president Jennifer Theien said. "Every year somebody has to fight or people leave the community because there's no guarantee for a seat."
P.S./I.S. 78 is currently the only elementary school in the area, and the Department of Education was forced to add two extra pre-k and two extra kindergarten classes there this year to accommodate dozens of kids who were initially waitlisted.
Parents say the lack of school space will get even worse as the city plans to build thousands of new apartments on the waterfront in the coming years as part of its Hunters point South affordable housing complex.
"That's adding so many more children for a school that cannot hold any of them," said Theien, whose own daughter was initially waitlisted at P.S. 78 this year before the city added the extra pre-k classes.
The Gantry Parent Association — which has a Facebook group with more than 400 members — will form committees to work on different educational issues, including one that will help scout out potential sites for new schools.
They also plan to meet regularly with local elected officials, developers and city agencies like the DOE and the School Construction Authority, as well as get more local families involved in their cause.
"Community is a big part of what we're trying to do," said Theien, who said they're working to hold a public meeting in January.
DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said the city is working to alleviate overcrowding, and is planning to create roughly 1,900 new seats in Queens District 30, which includes Long Island City, though he did not specify where exactly those seats will go.
"We will continue to engage with families, community members and elected officials to ensure we are doing everything possible to provide the high-quality facilities that help our students thrive in and out of the classroom," he said.