After years of campaigning by parents and politicians, the School Construction Authority has agreed to build an annex at an overcrowded elementary school in Woodside.
PS 11 at 54-25 Skillman Ave. operates at 17 percent over capacity, with some of its students spilling into 20-year-old temporary portable units. The new wing, which Principal Anna Efkarpides, politicians and community members have been asking for for years, will combat this problem by replacing the portables and creating about 300 seats.
“The trailers are long past their shelf life,” District 30 Community Education Council Co-President Jeff Guyton said.
Often schoolyards are controlled by the Parks Department, according to CEC Co-President Isaac Carmignani, “which causes for more red tape.”
“This time it’s owned by the School Construction Authority or the Department of Education. Point is it’s our property, which makes it easier for the project to happen,” he added.
The annex is slated to open in the school’s underutilized yard in 2015.
Guyton listed off a string of concerns: four-fourth-grade classrooms were operating at illegal capacity levels; the school was sited by the Fire Department for clogging the hallways when teachers pulled kindergartners out of full classrooms for one-on-one assessments; and personnel worked out of closet-sized offices — “nicely painted, well lit, glorified closets.”
PTA member Michelle Lederman said at a press conference in the spring that because of overcrowding students were eating lunch too early or too late. Also, her first-grade twins, Leah and Ava, who attend PS 11 in a classroom of 27, do not have the space to sit in a circle, she said.
“The School Construction Authority’s announcement that an annex will be built at PS 11 will ease overcrowding at the school and is a major victory for our community,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said.
Additionally, in February, the SCA bought property for a new school — PS 339 — at 39th Avenue and 57th Street for a 440-seat elementary school with a tentative opening in September 2015. The school will help accommodate the educational need in the neighborhood.
Guyton said once this school is built, PS 11 can rid its property of the portables and use the new facility, located only blocks away from PS 11, as a swing school.