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Queens Chronicle

DOE to fix crowded PS 143 — eventually

Five schools planned for Corona, but first one still 16 months away

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:50 am, Thu May 31, 2012.

Rezoning aimed at alleviating overcrowding at PS 143 in Corona will actually result in increases during the first few years after a new school opens nearby in September 2013.

That bit of information was included Tuesday night in a presentation at PS 143 by representatives of the Department of Education’s Department of Portfolio Planning.

Speaking at a meeting of Community Education Council 24, Portfolio representatives Emily Ades and Elizabeth Park outlined new zones and enrollment estimates for when a new school opens up 16 months from now.

Under the DOE’s proposal, students currently in PS 330 in Elmhurst will move to the new building under construction at 110-08 Northern Blvd., which will be the new PS 330.

The existing PS 330, which was established in the old Ascension School building to alleviate overcrowding in PS 143, would be backfilled, as Ades put it, by the same way the new PS 330 will be.

And PS 143, which now is at 123 percent of designed capacity with about 1,600 students, could go over 140 percent of capacity until other new schools open over the next few years.

Ades said the increase could be alleviated by such things as more efficient use of space.

“We’re overcrowded right now,” said Elsa Avalos, president of the PTA at PS 143. “This school was built for about 938 students..”

“We need help now,” said parent Angelica Salgado. “Our children don’t have two or three years.”

Nick Comaianni, president of CEC 24, has shared the same frustrations for years. He reiterated that more schools are coming.

“Every school in the district is overcrowded,” he said. “Corona is the most overcrowded; 330 was filled just to help 143.” He said once the School Construction Authority grasped the gravity of the situation, it approved eight new schools in Queens, including six in CEC 24.

“And five of those are in Corona,” he said.

But he also said construction takes time, and that the CEC and the DOE are constantly on the lookout for private properties that can serve as schools.

“What do you want us to do that we haven’t done?” asked CEC 24 Vice President Peter Vercessi.

While one parent brought up the “temporary” trailers being used at PS 143 being made permanent, Comaianni cited another painful fact from the SCA — the fact that every portable classroom in the district is considered to be beyond its scheduled useful life span.

In the case of PS 143, there is an additional complication.

“Those portables sit on Parks Department land,” Comaianni said. “If you want to make those permanent, you have to find an equivalent amount of land somewhere else and give it to the Parks Department. Then you can make those permanent.”

Portfolio’s proposal would shrink the existing PS 143 feeder zone and establish a new one for PS 330 that incorporates the northern part of the existing 143 zone and approximately four square blocks from what is now a portion of District 28.

CEC 24 will vote on the new borders recommendations in June.

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