Tag Archives: overcrowded schools

Woodside gets more room to learn


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of SCA

Shovels full of dirt hit the ground to alleviate overcrowded classrooms in Woodside.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with city officials and the community on November 15 at the corner of 58th Street and 39th Avenue to break ground on the construction of P.S. 339.

“This new school is going to help so much here in Woodside,” said Van Bramer. “Here in Woodside, in our district, we have a serious overcrowding situation and I’m so thrilled that we’ve had a lot of these groundbreakings and that we’re building a lot of new schools in our district. The children of Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City deserve nothing but the very best.”

P.S. 339 is one of six new schools expected to be fully operational by 2016 in western Queens. Located at 39-07 57th Street, it will serve 472 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

The new five-story building will feature 22 standard classrooms, two special-education classrooms, multiple resource rooms, a music classroom, art classroom and “gymatorium.” The school will also have a library, cafeteria, kitchen, a community room, a general use and early childhood playground, and administrative, guidance and medical offices.

P.S. 339 is slated to open September 2015, with the facility fully operational by 2016.

Along with the new school, Van Bramer also announced the construction of a state-of-the-art extension to nearby P.S. 11, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave, which will add 350 seats and is expected to be open by 2016.

“I am so excited that this is happening,” said Anna Efkarpides, principal of P.S. 11. “It’s for our community. It’s not my school, your school, it’s a school for Woodside children.”


Members of the Woodside community, School Construction Authority representatives and local elected officials broke ground on the construction of P.S. 339, which is expected to be fully operational by 2016. (THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano)

 

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Survey says overcrowding problem at Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens schools are failing in at least one subject– classroom sizes.

Hillcrest High School in Jamaica ranked highest in the number of oversized classrooms, 400, and Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School follows with 385, according to a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) survey.

More than 230,000 students citywide spent some of the first few weeks back to school in crowded classes, the study found. About 6,313 classes were overcrowded, up almost 200 from last year, but more than 1,000 of those classes were found in Queens high schools alone.

Overcrowding is a problem throughout the entire city school system, but “Queens high schools have been hit the worst,” the UFT said.

Class sizes around the city in grades 1 through 3 have now reached a 14-year high. Although they have not reached the classroom size limit of 32 seats, first and second grade has grown to an average of 24 seats per class, with 25 in third grade.

“It is time to take this issue seriously,” said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. “All our students, especially our youngest children, desperately need smaller class sizes.”

Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that under his administration New York City schools had improved outstandingly on the academic side.

During his time in office many schools were shuttered, but more than new 650 schools were created. Bloomberg said 22 of the top 25 schools in the state are from New York City, and none were on that list before his administration.

“After 12 years reforming our once-broken school system, it’s clear that our hard work has paid huge dividends for our students,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

In fact, three Queens elementary schools, P.S. 46 in Oakland Gardens, P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill and P.S. 221 in Little Neck,  Richmond Hillwere named to the prestigious national Blue Ribbon award for excellence in education on September 24.

Despite the academic improvements, the UFT said children shouldn’t have to try to learn in overcrowded classrooms.

“Twelve years of Michael Bloomberg, and hundreds of thousands of students start the school year in oversize classes,” Mulgrew said. “There is no excuse for letting students stay in an oversize class.”

 

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New Woodside school to ease overcrowding


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


The city is using several empty lots to ensure students in one of New York’s most congested school districts don’t get lost in the “crowd.”

Due to collaboration between the Department of Education (DOE), School Construction Authority (SCA) and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the city plans to purchase a cluster of land in Woodside to construct a new elementary school– easing overcrowding in school District 30 by creating roughly 430 new seats.

“I have been looking for a school in that area since I started at the Community Education Council (CEC) nine years ago. This decision is huge,” said Jeff Guyton, co-president of CEC District 30. “We are growing big time in Sunnyside and Woodside, and we are very successful. We have great schools and great leadership in the district, and it is a big thing to put another school in this area that is overcrowded.”

Van Bramer, prompted by the situation at P.S. 11, an elementary school in the area currently operating at 117 percent capacity, has worked with the SCA to address the overcrowding issues in Sunnyside and Woodside.

“This agreement comes at a time when CEC 30 is in the midst of some of the worst overcrowding in the city of New York,” said Van Bramer. “Today’s announcement shows a commitment by both the SCA and the DOE to address this problem in our district. This agreement will not only give our children the adequate space that is needed to learn, but will also alleviate the strain that has been put on schools in the surrounding area.”

Local elected officials echoed the councilmember, emphasizing the negative effect overcrowding can have on education.

“No child should have to fight for a desk, school supplies or the attention of their teachers,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “There is no question Queens is in need of new and better school facilities and today’s announcement is a step forward in addressing the needs of Woodside students. But our efforts must continue, and I will keep fighting in Congress to ensure that schools in Queens receive their fair share of federal funds and that the education of our children comes first.”

Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2013, and the new school is expected to open in September of 2015.

Despite the major boost the new school will provide the area, Guyton believes more measures are necessary if the problem of overcrowding is to be solved.

“Woodside and Sunnyside have been needing help for a long time,” he said. “But we need help in Jackson Heights also. We are still looking for options in Jackson Heights, which is our most intense area of overcrowding.”