Leaders at PS 90 in Richmond Hill are rallying parents to fight for a gym at their school — and they’re not prepared to take anything less than a plan for construction from the city.
“We have no gym — none,” said Daisy Maharaj, secretary of the Parent Teacher Association at PS 90, located at 86-50 109 St. in Richmond Hill. “The kids are playing in the cafeteria. Because there’s no gym, all they can do is run. There are no activities. There should be volleyball, baseball, other sports — but they can’t have those because there’s no space.”
At the beginning of the school year, PTA members sent out a letter to parents detailing the need for a gym at the school. Because there is no gym, students have to use the cafeteria or hallways, and usually participate in gym class only for about 45 minutes a week because of limited space, parents said.
The state mandates two hours of gym a week for primary school-age students.
The response to their letter, PTA members said, has been overwhelming, with parents sending in petitions for a gym every day since school began.
After collecting the petitions, PTA President Edith Rivera said she and her members plan to give them to city and education officials.
“The kids can’t just have classes, they need to exercise,” Rivera said. “It helps them concentrate in class, and it’s good for them.”
Officials at PS 90 and parent leaders have also submitted an application to the city School Construction Authority for major renovations at the Richmond Hill institution.
They requested a gym, repairs to school stairs and the bathrooms and the installation of an elevator.
Rivera, Maharaj and PTA Treasurer Gangadai Sarwan said that while the children once were able to play outside for exercise, they no longer can do that because of construction being done to the school’s exterior.
“Gym is being held in the hallway,” Maharaj said. “It’s not good for them.”
Additionally, the children will sometimes run around in the cafeteria, which parents said is far from ideal because there are numerous objects in the room that pose potential dangers —such as beams that run from the ceiling to the floor into which Maharaj said she worried some students might run.
The cafeteria, which is about 32 feet by 24 feet, is a cramped space that other classes have to often use, severely limiting the amount of time children can run around in it, according to parents.
“We’re going to keep fighting for this,” Rivera said. “Our kids deserve this.”