While the city has opened nearly 35,000 classroom seats in Queens since 2003, the borough remains the most overcrowded in the city and desperately needs additional space, School Construction Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Grillo said at Monday’s Queens Borough Board meeting.
“The situation, as you know, in Queens is dire,” Grillo said at the meeting, held at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens. “We’ve been working very, very hard to add seats.”
Grillo briefed Borough President Helen Marshall, Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik and community board leaders on the city Department of Education’s five-year capital plan, which ends in 2014. She noted that while the city identified a need for at least 50,000 new seats throughout the five boroughs in the capital plan, only 28,000 were originally funded. Ultimately, that number grew to 33,000.
In Queens, there are about 6,380 seats that the city said are needed but are unfunded. School District 24, which covers schools in such neighborhoods as Corona, Maspeth and Woodside, and District 29, which covers areas including Cambria Heights, Rosedale and Laurelton, have the largest number of unfunded seats in the capital plan — 1,905 and 1,084, respectively. District 30, which covers western Queens, comes in a close third, with 1,378 unfunded seats.
Still, Grillo emphasized that, in part because of pressure from the borough president, Queens is receiving more seats than other parts of the city.
She noted that Maspeth High School, now operating at the Metropolitan High School campus in Forest Hills, will open this September. PS 287, an elementary school in Corona, and an addition to PS 87 in Middle Village, will open in September 2013. PS 287 will include 432 seats, and the addition at PS 87 will include another 140 seats.
“This addition to PS 87 is something parents have fought for for a very long time,” Grillo said.
The SCA president emphasized that District 24 — where Maspeth HS, PS 287 and PS 87 will be sited — as well as District 30, are particular areas of “tremendous need.”
In District 25, an additional 232 seats will open in an addition to PS 29 in College Point this September. The city is looking for a site to build about 738 seats around the Flushing-Murray Hill area.
The city is also searching for a site to build 416 seats in the Bayside-Auburndale neighborhood, and another location to build 416 seats in the Howard Beach-Lindenwood community. Ozone Park’s PS 316 will open in September 2014, and will include 416 seats.
In District 28, PS/IS 314 will open with 833 seats in Jamaica in September 2015. Also in 2015, PS 334 in Hollis, located in District 29, will open with 379 seats.
IS 297 in Long Island City is set to usher students into its 423 seats beginning in September 2013, and another 508 seats will be included in an addition to PS 70 in Sunnyside in September 2014.
Marshall said she is pleased with the new seats, but also stressed the need for continuing construction.
“We have a definite necessity for seats for our kids,” Marshall said. “We are packed.”