Plans to move the CASPER after-school program for three- and four-year-olds from P.S.16 in Paulus Hook to an early childhood center on Danforth Avenue in Greenville drew many concerned parents to Thursday’s Jersey City Board of Education meeting. For the second month in a row, parents attested publicly to the inconvenience and other problems the program’s relocation would pose.
“As a family without a car, which is very common in Paulus Hook, it is very difficult to go to Danforth to pick up our daughter before the bus brings them back. It takes up to an hour and half with public transportation. As two parents working full time, we unfortunately cannot commit to this commute,” said P.S. 16 parent Eric Meyer.
Parents with cars also complained about the plan. Currently, the after-school program is located in the annex adjacent to P.S. 16, which is located at 275 Washington Street. The new site would 160 Danforth Ave., which is 3.9 miles away.
Said, Linda Liu, parent of two children at P.S. 16:
“As a registered nurse, the schedules are unpredictable … There are days I can pick up at 4 p.m. and others where I have to pick up at the very last minute. It’s already hectic enough with the traffic driving from the Heights towards downtown … It’s hard as a parent to try to give everything to your kids and the best future possible, so I’m asking if we can try to keep them somewhere downtown together.
Acting Superindentent Norma Fernandez recognized parents’ objections but said the board is unlikely to reverse its decision.
“If we do not offer CASPER at the Danforth site, we will have like last year 200 students who will not be able to participate. Understanding concerns, it is the only way to offer more CASPER services for families that need it who live in [the] P.S. 16 district.”
Parents were also wary about the stress the move would cause children who, in order to return to their homes downtown from Greenville, would have to take a long bus ride at 6 p.m. after a ten-hour day.
“It’s nighttime in the winter. The rush hour could get them tired; they are going to get agitated. It’s just a very long day for them,” said another parent.
Because the Paulus Hook district was overcrowded at the start of the 2022–2022 school year, the waiting list to get in to CASPER grew to roughly 500 students. In a letter sent to the parents in March, P.S. 16 Principal Terry Watkins-Williams said he expects the relocation to Danforth to be temporary until a new downtown facility for CASPER opens at 70 Bright Street between January and September 2023.
Samuel Rivo, an intern, just completed his junior year at Syracuse University