NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Every new school year comes with a new set of challenges, but Staten Island parents and children alike did not expect to face a challenge before even getting int the classroom door.

It’s all thanks to a new construction project at a Sunnyside school. A new school is being built directly next door to an existing one, blocking off parking spaces and creating a lot of delays and headaches for everyone involved.

Dropping off and picking up your child at school should be easy and safe. But at the Michael J. Petrides School, parents say it’s anything but that.

“It’s just a lot of chaos,” said parent Chris Aimetti. “Since the first week, the two days was rough.”

“It’s been a complete disaster. It’s crazy here, it’s never been like this before,” said parent Cynthia Montalvan.

The school recently lost half its parking lot to construction in June. The School Construction Authority broke ground on what will soon be a school for children with disabilities, slated to open in 2021.

So far, the construction has caused nothing but headaches for parents. For the first few days, they say arrival and dismissal time took hours. Fortunately, it is improving, but the concern is now shifting from traffic to safety.

“It’s crazy. All the parents have to pick their kids up outside the school because there’s no parking,” Montalvan said.

The school lost about 300 spots due to construction.

Parents say there was no plan. They’ve either had to wait in traffic to get on campus, or park along surrounding streets, forcing their children to cross busy intersections and creating congestion on residential roads.

“We’re in the street outside and it’s dangerous. Our kids are coming, into the street, crossing, there’s no crossing guards number one. There’s nothing here kids are going to get hit by a car and then what?” said parent Jennifer Hummler.

“They have to fix this. They have to do something about this,” Montalvan said.

The Department of Education would not go on camera, but says it’s working to improve the flow of traffic and keep students safe.

CBS2 also reached out to a number of elected officials who acknowledge the parents’ safety concerns and are calling on the Department of Education for a solution, or at least more police officers and crossing guards for now.

Construction is expected to go on for a few years.

The new Richard H. Hungerford School is expected to open in time for the 2021-22 school year.


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