The School Construction Authority has no immediate plans to remove 70 of the trailers being used as portable classrooms on school grounds across the borough, agency officials told Borough Board members Monday.
“We go at them as we can find solutions,” said Michael Mirisola, director of external affairs at the SCA.
The agency went over its amended 2015-19 capital plan with board members, detailing the plans to build and renovate schools in Queens district by district, but it was the part about the trailers — known as transportable classroom units — that most interested the community board chairpersons and a few City Council members who showed up to the meeting.
The capital plan, as it stands, has $450 million allocated for the removal of the units, but before they can be taken away, a plan must be developed to seat the children in them back in their school or an addition built onto it.
Right now, there are 17 Queens schools with such a plan, though some details still need to be hammered out.
“Each one is slightly different but they’re moving ahead,” Mirisola said.
For example, PS 131 in Jamaica Estates is listed as one of the schools with a plan to remove the three TCUs on its property but the SCA could not provide Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) with an answer on when the addition to it will be built.
The officials told Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) that a plan has been created to remove two trailers at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside starting in February.
The SCA officials at the Borough Board meeting told the members that 33 units have been removed in the past three years, though Borough President Melinda Katz said she was told by the Department of Education that number was only 17.
Trailers weren’t the only concerns brought up during the meeting.
Gene Kelty, chairman of CB 7, asked if the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is still providing money to the SCA to soundproof school buildings.
“We don’t know if there’s any money in the pipeline for that right now,” Mirisola responded.
Several members brought up concerns of the SCA not coordinating with other agencies, thus creating problems at some construction sites.
The agency briefly discussed its plans to create 44,000 new seats citywide — at a cost of $4.4 billion — and highlighted some of its Queens projects, including PS 335, a new 500-seat elementary school in Ozone Park set to open next year, a 366-seat addition to PS 144 in Forest Hills set to be completed in 2019 and a 600-seat addition to PS 24 in Flushing.
In Queens, five brand-new schools or additions to existing ones are expected to open by next September, including PS 332 — a Bayside elementary school that is being built on the former Keil Brothers Garden Center and Nursery property on 48th Avenue and 211th Street — and a 600-seat addition to IS 125 in Woodside.