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Queens Parents Demand 'Fix' to P.S. 196 Crowding After 56 Kids Wait-Listed

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | March 13, 2017 3:34pm
 P.S. 196 has a waitlist of 56 kids this year, according to the Department of Education.
P.S. 196 has a waitlist of 56 kids this year, according to the Department of Education.
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DNAinfo.com/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — Dozens of students zoned for Forest Hills's coveted P.S. 196 were wait-listed this year and are being sent to other schools in the district — angering local parents who are demanding the city fix the problem.

Last week, the city sent letters to parents notifying them that P.S. 196 Grand Central Parkway, at 71-25 113th St., had already filled its 175 kindergarten seats and that 56 students zoned for the District 28 school were wait-listed.

The waitlist represents one of the longest in the city, according to data provided by the Department of Education.  

“It happens every year,” said M.C. Sweeney, a mother of two, whose eldest daughter was wait-listed. “They need to fix it.”

Sweeney, who moved to a home near P.S. 196 in 2012 in part because of the school, said her child was offered a spot at P.S. 99 in Kew Gardens.

“It’s a good school by all accounts, but it’s outside of our neighborhood and it’s just far for us,” she said. “It's upsetting.”

The DOE said there was an increase in zoned families applying to P.S 196 this year compared to last year, when just 22 zoned students were wait-listed.

Other wait-listed students received kindergarten offers at other schools, including P.S. 101 in Forest Hills Gardens, parents said.

“We work with all families — including those in the Forest Hills community — to ensure they find kindergarten seats that meet their needs," said DOE spokesman Will Mantell in an email.

Citywide, the number of students on waitlists at schools fell 4 percent this year, according to the department.

The DOE also said the situation may change in the upcoming months, after families receive spots at gifted-and-talented programs or elsewhere.

“Many families on a waitlist receive offers over the course of the spring and summer,” Mantell noted. 

But parents insisted the situation requires a permanent solution, as new developments keep rising in the neighborhood. 

"It's a recurring overcrowding problem," Sweeney said.

Two years ago, P.S. 196 had a waitlist of 52 kids and P.S. 144 at 93-02 69th Ave. had a waitlist of 64 students.

This year, P.S. 144, which has since installed a trailer in its schoolyard to alleviate overcrowding, does not have a waitlist, the DOE said.

The department said that its current Capital Plan includes funding for 1,074 new elementary school seats in District 28, which includes Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and a portion of Jamaica.

A $61 million addition at P.S 303 at 108-55 69th Ave., which will bring 484 new seats to the area, is currently under construction.

A 590-seat addition is also planned for P.S. 144, the DOE said in 2015.