Tag Archives: School Construction Authority

New pre-K center to open in Elmhurst school


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark

A new $3 million pre-K center is set to open next year in Elmhurst.

The School Construction Authority recently started accepting bids for the center, called Q391, which will be located in St. Bartholomew School at 44-15 Judge St.

The center will have 144 seats, according to the Department of Education, and is expected to open in September 2015.

The School Construction Authority is collecting bids until Nov. 25.

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Jackson Heights middle school to welcome more space for students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Students at one Jackson Heights middle school are getting more room to learn.

Local elected officials, Department of Education (DOE) and School Construction Authority (SCA) representatives, and members of the I.S. 230 community will come together Thursday morning to cut the ribbon on the middle school’s new annex.

Located across the street from the middle school on 34th Avenue and 74th Street, the new building has classrooms, science labs, an art studio, a library with computers, bathrooms on every floor, an exercise room and a cafeteria.

“This new annex will help alleviate overcrowding at the main I.S. 230 middle school building,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “In addition to providing much-needed space, the building provides rooms for science labs, the arts and exercise. These rooms are essential to a well-rounded education.”

I.S. 230 is located in School District 30, which is one of the city’s most overcrowded school districts, according to officials.

I.S. 230

I.S. 230

The SCA also purchased two lots on 74th Street which will be used as outdoor play and exercise areas, according to Dromm.

“I want to thank the DOE and the SCA for making this building so beautiful and functional,” Dromm said. “It will go a long way to improving education in our district.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the annex will take place Thursday at 9 a.m. at 74th Street and 34th Avenue.

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SCA to host public sessions on new school coming to Centerville


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The School Construction Authority (SCA) will be hosting a public forum this week on a new school being built in Centerville.

The proposed school, located at Albert Road and Huron Street, will be a big topic of discussion at the next Community Board 10 meeting on Oct. 2 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Ozone Park.

The SCA sought the land in an effort to alleviate expected overcrowding in School District 27.  The agency estimates that there will be an additional 990 students in the district by 2017.

The site, which is approximately 72,500 square feet, will be used as a 504-seat elementary school that will run from pre-K to grade 5.

Along with the school building, there are also plans for a large recreational area consisting of courts, a playground and even an outdoor stage, according to the SCA website.

Community Board 10 currently has six elementary schools, four K-8 schools and four middle schools in District 27.

The meeting will begin at 7:45 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, located at 135-45 Lefferts Blvd.

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Renderings reveal look of new P.S./I.S. 314 school in Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Department of Education


The School Construction Authority posted renderings of P.S./I.S. 314 in Jamaica, giving residents a glimpse into the future of a new school in the neighborhood. 

The school, which will be located on the corner of 164th Street and Hillside Avenue, is just one of many coming to the borough in the next few years to target overcrowding. It was approved by the City Council in 2011.

It will be four stories and approximately 113,092 square feet, according to city filings, and accommodate more than 830 students, from pre-K through the eighth-grade. It is expected to open in September 2015.

Gruzen Samton Architects of IBI Group designed the building, which is shaped like an “L” and organized into two main components: a four-story academic wing with classrooms, offices, a cafeteria and library, and a three-story public assembly wing, which houses the gymnasium and an auditorium.

To see more renderings of the project click here.

 

 

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Residents nervous about Glendale homeless shelter impact on schools


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata


Hundreds of residents voiced concerns of potentially overcrowded schools at a forum on the impact of a proposed homeless shelter in Glendale.

It would be irresponsible to put kids in a shelter that you cannot fit into its zoned school district, said Nick Comaianni, president of the Community Education Council for District 24 at the Wednesday meeting at P.S./I.S. 28.

“District 24 is already the most overcrowded school district in the city,” Comaianni said. “This is not a strategic place to house these children.”

Thirty-one of the 39 schools in the district are already over capacity, ranging from about 110 to 150 percent saturation, according to Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.

Adding the 125 families that are proposed for the Cooper Avenue shelter would mean the children living there would have priority to go to school in the area.

Increasing the number of seats to accommodate these families would be too much of a burden on the schools in the area, Crowley said.

“We need to find nearly 5,000 high school and elementary school seats for children already going to school in the area,” she said. “We have to do everything we can do to make sure [the proposed shelter] turns into a school to house these 5,000 children already overcrowding the district.”

The site was looked at two years ago by the School Construction Authority (SCA) but was deemed inadequate because of its proximity to busy Cooper Avenue and because there was a chemical plant  next door, among other things, according to Mary Lease, a representative from the SCA.

However, because Independent Chemical Corporation would now like to sell, adding that land to the land of both the vacant factory and the Hansel ‘n Gretel meat processing plant, which is for sale, means the SCA is re-considering the nine acre plot for a school, Lease said.

To buy the land, the SCA first has to do environmental assessment tests on all three of the sites.  At this point, only Hansel ‘n Gretel has agreed to let the SCA on their property to do an environmental review, with the owner of the vacant factory and owner of the Independent Chemical Company denying access, according to Lease. Without all three sites, the SCA will not build a school there, according to Lease.

Samaritan Village, the nonprofit organization looking to build the homeless shelter on the site, wants to lease the vacant factory for 60 years.

The proposed lease has not made its way to City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office yet, according to Crowley.

“We have to keep pressing upon the mayor’s office and continue our fight,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo said. “We have a serious issue regarding the overcrowding of our schools and this is not an issue that will go away.”

There is one possibility that may alleviate the further overcrowding of schools in the area if the homeless shelter is built. The school of origin program is one where children who move from one district to another can stay in the school they attended previously. This is a condition that parents of the homeless children may consider which can help some of congestion.

But considering that District 24 schools are already at 30 percent higher capacity than any other district in the city, adding even a couple of children to the schools would be too much, Crowley said.

Residents of the district asked both Crowley and Addabbo what the plans are going forward.

Crowley said she would make sure the chancellor of New York City Schools, Carmen Fariña, is aware of the issues that are already facing the district even without children from the shelter. Addabbo said he will continue to fight and send letters to the mayor’s office about the negative impact this shelter will have on the community.

But both agreed that residents also need to voice their concerns to the comptroller’s and mayor’s offices to show there is great concern for their children’s education.

 

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DOE votes to bus more than 250 Woodside students to Astoria school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of Woodside parents have lost the fight to keep their children close to home.

The Department of Education (DOE) voted on Wednesday night to temporary relocate more than 250 students from P.S.11 in Woodside to P.S. 171 in Astoria for the next three years.

The relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I have maintained that the expansion of P.S. 11 is a necessary investment in our children’s education and is vitally important to alleviating our overcrowded schools,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said. “However, I am disappointed and troubled by the DOE’s lack of foresight to avoid this terrible situation.”

Crowley added, “The DOE’s poor planning and judgment will now place a significant burden on 250 of our youngest students and their families. Our children only get one real opportunity at a great education and it is unfortunate our city cannot do right by them.”

Seven members of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) voted in favor of the proposal, while two were against and one abstained from voting.

Since December, parents and elected officials fought to keep the students closer to their Woodside homes and last month asked the DOE to consider renting space in the nearby former St. Teresa School building.

But P.S.11 parents say the DOE told them the former Catholic school would not be practical for the students due to lack of adequate resources at the site.

“Where there is a will there should be a way,” said Martin Connolly, whose youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year and faces being bused to Astoria. “We are just disappointed. At the moment we are just accepting the situation.”

“We are now looking very seriously at our son’s future,” the father of three said.

Connolly also has two other children currently at P.S. 11, a daughter in second grade and son in kindergarten.

“After extensive outreach to the community, we decided to move forward on delivering a state-of-the-art addition to P.S. 11 that will enrich student’s academic experience and reduce overcrowding,” DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said.

 

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Pols ask for closer alternative for P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Woodside parents and politicians are asking the Department of Education to consider renting space in a nearby former Catholic school building rather than busing the kindergarten and first-graders miles away to Astoria.

Last week, a group of elected officials sent a letter to the DOE asking it to send the students from P.S. 11 in Woodside to the former St. Teresa School building, instead of P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The letter came as the agency announced the vote on the Woodside school’s partial co-location and re-siting had been postponed until April 9.

The 3-year relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, is a result of the School Construction Authority’s plan to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

In the letter the officials wrote the new option would provide the students the adequate space needed for a safe and positive learning environment, together with keeping in mind the concerns of parents. It would also keep the children in the same neighborhood.

P.S. 199 in Long Island City currently rents the first floor of the St. Teresa building for its kindergarten classes. The second and third floors are unoccupied, according to the officials.

Martin Connolly, father of three, was happy to hear about the DOE’s vote postponement and believes moving the children to the St. Teresa building would make it manageable for both the families and students.

“We as a family are more comfortable with the idea. We would like to keep our kids close by, we don’t believe our children are old enough to travel that distance every day,” said Connolly, who has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at P.S. 11. His youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year. “They’re toddlers, they’re still babies.”

The Woodside father also said other parents have not been told exactly what will happen during the three years of the temporary co-location and that when parents sign their children up for P.S. 11, they are not made aware of the re-siting.

“The DOE needs to know that everyone should be made aware of this,” he said. “They need to realize that everybody’s child is precious to them.”

The DOE did not respond to request for comment by press time.

 

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DOE postpones vote on temporary relocation plans of Woodside’s P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Julianne O’Riordan

The Department of Education (DOE) announced the vote on a Woodside school’s partial co-location and re-siting has been postponed.

Next month, the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will decide if kindergarten and first grade students from P.S. 11 in Woodside will be sent to P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The three-year relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I am encouraged by the collaborative effort by the Department of Education, the School Construction Authority and the Mayor’s Office to delay the vote on the proposal to bus over 250 kindergartners from Woodside to a school almost three miles away in Astoria,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “Every alternative must be considered to ensure that these young children receive a quality education without having to be uprooted from their home community.”

Last month, Crowley gathered with other local elected officials and parents of students from P.S. 11 to voice their disagreement with the DOE’s final recommendation to move forward with the plan.

The PEP was originally going to vote on the proposal on March 18 but will now vote on April 9.

 

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Howard Beach’s P.S. 207 receives nearly $2M in storm recovery funds


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Twelve feet of water rushed into the basement of P.S. 207 during Sandy, leaving the Howard Beach school with over $2 million worth of damages.

Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder announced Monday roughly $1.82 million is on the way for repairs.

“It’s been over a year since Sandy tore apart our schools in southern Queens and while we have all made significant progress there is still work to be done,” Goldfeder said. “This new funding will enormously help P.S. 207 rebuild and ensure our children receive the quality education they deserve.”

The FEMA federal funds will go to the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) and will reimburse 90 percent of the cost of repairs throughout the building.

The bulk of the damage was in the flooded basement, where a fuel oil tank rolled and spilled about 3,000 gallons of oil. Two boilers, electrical panels, lights, ductwork and the fire alarm system were also damaged.

The damage left the school without electricity, heat and water, and closed in the months following the superstorm. Nearly 90,000 gallons of water and oil was removed from the building before it could reopen.

“This infusion of federal money is helping P.S. 207 put the damaging effects of Hurricane Sandy in the rear-view mirror and enabling the school to get back to educating New York City’s children without crushing back-bills,” Schumer said.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: City eyes two more northeast Queens school sites


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) is looking for more than an acre of Queens land to build a new high school, The Courier has learned.

The SCA has allocated funds for the future institution, poised to alleviate Queens high school congestion, but is still scouring the borough for a site slightly larger than an acre to build it on, according to SCA Director of External Affairs Mary Leas.

“We’d love to find a nice, big site for a high school,” Leas said. “Over an acre would be best. It’s not easy to find a site that size. Then when we do, we really want to investigate it and see if we could make it work. An acre is a lot of property in the city.”

The SCA briefed Community District Education Council 26 (CDEC) Thursday on its proposed $12 billion capital budget for 2015 to 2019, which includes the new high school.

A Department of Education spokesperson told The Courier the city is eyeing a site in Whitestone that “has not been identified.”

Residents in the area, in September, said they saw SCA scouts surveying the vacant Whitestone Jewels Property at 150-33 6th Avenue. The six-acre site is in the midst of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank.

State Senator Tony Avella said the location is not “viable” for a school, due to lack of infrastructure and public transportation options.

“The city would have to put in sewers and water mains. It would be a transportation nightmare for parents and students,” he said.

The authority ruled out a Little Neck school site — long suggested by the CDEC — due to its “remote” location near 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, on the border of Long Island.

“It’s very hard to site a high school in a community,” Leas said. “Just even looking at a site could cause quite a flurry of activity amongst communities that don’t want the high schools.”

The SCA’s preliminary five-year plan also includes building a 465-seat elementary school in either Oakland Gardens or Fresh Meadows.

Partial funds have been set aside for the potential elementary school, but the SCA has not found a site yet, according to Monica Gutierrez, an SCA community relations manager.

The City Council last week passed a controversial plan to build a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school at 210-11 48th Avenue in Bayside. According to the SCA, it will likely take about three years to open. Its design process, which has not yet begun, is expected to be finalized in about a year.

The SCA gave the presentation to seek feedback from the school district that encompasses Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.

To suggest site locations to the city, email sites@nycsca.org.

 

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Council vote OKs Bayside school on Keil Bros. site


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A controversial proposal to build a school in Bayside sailed through the City Council last week, despite the community’s overwhelming opposition.

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) needed the Council’s final ruling in order to go through with plans to build a new elementary school at the site of the Keil Bros. Garden Center and Nursery.

Owners of the popular garden center sold their 210-11 48th Avenue property to the city for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.

The City Council approved the application last Thursday, with only Queens legislators Mark Weprin and Peter Vallone Jr. voting no.

“I had opposed the school because I didn’t think it was the best site for a school to begin with,” Weprin said. “I wasn’t even convinced about the need for the school.”

Nearby homeowners said the 456-seat institution would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

The contentious plan even led to two rowdy residents threatening SCA officials in May, when the proposal was first presented to the public at a heated Community Board 11 meeting.

The board had just shot down the application in an advisory vote when a male resident threatened to break an SCA representative’s legs and a woman allegedly followed another official in a car, The Courier reported.

“The community is very much against it,” Weprin said. “The Department of Education decided we needed a school there. I haven’t met anybody in the community who is dying to have a school there.”

But many local educators who support the plan said the new school would relieve heavy congestion in the district’s 21 elementary schools. At least three schools have had to put classrooms in space originally meant for libraries or music rooms, according to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of CB 11.

The SCA said its site selection process began in 2008. The authority honed in on the Bayside location this April. The DOE did not comment on when construction would begin.

Meanwhile, a battle still brews between the district’s state senator and its new councilmember.

State Senator Tony Avella claims Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone snubbed the community by supporting the proposal behind closed doors.

Vallone, who does not cast a Council vote until January, has “never voiced support for the school site,” his spokesperson said.

“Tony must not have gotten the memo — he’s not the councilman anymore,” said spokesperson Austin Finan. “Moving forward, Paul Vallone will not be responding to the lies perpetuated by Senator Avella who has clearly demonstrated he is more focused on personal vendettas than he is the future of northeast Queens.”

 

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Hundreds show up to sign petition opposing Whitestone school site


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Devon O'Connor, president of Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Hundreds came out to Whitestone Saturday afternoon to sign a petition asking the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) to propose alternate sites for a high school.

Residents, after hearing rumors of a school coming to an abandoned six-acre along 150th Street and 5th Avenue, said they were upset they weren’t involved in the decision process.

The lot would not be appropriate for a school because there are no major streets and no public transportation nearby, said City Council District 19 candidate Paul Vallone.

“We must be the voice that is heard and considered first when it comes to new construction in our neighborhoods,” he said following the petition signing.

According to Vallone, almost 600 petition signatures have been collected.

Vallone, upset by the lack of information, gathered with community leaders and residents on Wednesday to speak out against the SCA’s “unilateral site selection powers,” present them with other sites for the school, and let the SCA know the community wants to be involved.

According to State Senator Tony Avella, the Department of Education (DOE) said there is no official proposal to bring a school to that location.

“I stand with the community to not use this site for the school, but [Wednesday's] rally seems premature,” said Avella. “There’s no proposal. It’s all just rumor.”

DOE spokesperson David Pena said there has been no official decision made to place a school at the Whitestone site.

Anyone who wasn’t able to sign the petition Saturday can sign an online petition. A paper copy can also be picked up at Vallone’s campaign office at 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard.

 

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Whitestone school rumors met with rally


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Vallone

Whitestone residents are upset they weren’t involved in the decision process after hearing rumors of a school coming to an abandoned six-acre lot in the heart of their community.

After residents had seen city employees and School Construction Authority (SCA) surveyors measuring a vacant lot located along 150th Street and 5th Avenue, they began to ask questions and then heard of a potential school being proposed for the site.

Upset by the lack of information, City Council District 19 candidate Paul Vallone gathered with community leaders and residents on Wednesday, October 2 to speak out against the SCA’s “unilateral site selection powers,” present them with other sites for the school, and let the SCA know the community wants to be involved.

“It’s the process we are upset with,” said Vallone. “No one is going to tell you we don’t need a school. We need a school. It’s just the location that’s a problem.”

Vallone said the lot would not be fit for a school because there are no major streets and no public transportation nearby.

The lot is in the middle of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank, which was granted legal permission to clean and maintain the abandoned vacant property last year after it stood neglected by owner Whitestone Jewels.

State Senator Tony Avella said he has spoken to the Department of Education and there is no official proposal to bring a school to that location. He has also let the DOE know the community does not want a school at the site.

“I stand with the community to not use this site for the school, but the rally seems premature,” said Avella. “There’s no proposal. It’s all just rumor.”
Both Vallone and Avella believe the site would serve better as an open park space where children could participate in recreational sports.

According to DOE spokesperson David Pena, there has been no official decision made to place a school at the Whitestone site.

“As we do throughout the city, we always take preliminary surveys of areas where we have identified a need for new school construction,” said Pena. “This is just one area in the city we are surveying. We go through a public process before there is any approval on a particular site.”

The SCA did not respond as of press time.

 

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Op-Ed: School buildings need adequate funding


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

Long before I was elected to office, I was the Beacon Program director at P.S. 19 in Corona, known at the time as the most overcrowded school in the country. My years of work engaging our neighborhood children helped me understand the effect of school building conditions on their academic performance.

Because their classrooms were overcrowded, the students received less attention to their individual learning needs and more distraction readily intruded upon their focus. I’ve since learned that overcrowded schools are only part of a bigger problem. Chronic underfunding of our school buildings has left too many of our children learning in less than adequate environments.

Cutbacks in school facilities funding over the years have led to widespread school overcrowding and crumbling schools across aging school buildings in many of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. More schools can relieve the overcrowding, but appropriate funding for their operation and maintenance is necessary to keep them all in good, working order. Our children deserve to learn under the best possible conditions in the greatest city in the world.

I’m proud to say I’ve launched an Education Task Force with the help of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the School Construction Authority and our community partners to not only improve communication between our schools and parents, but also advocate for better funding of our school facilities and develop long-term solutions.

New York City spends a smaller percentage of its total education budget on building maintenance and operations than most other large school districts in the country, and the percentage of the city’s education budget dedicated to facilities keeps shrinking by millions of dollars, according to a report published in early May by 32BJ SEIU. The union represents 5,000 public school cleaners and handypersons.

According to that report, there are thousands of open building code violations in hundreds of school buildings across the city. As these violations are repaired, the number of building code violations changes, but there seems to be a constant and exorbitant number of them left unaddressed. I worry that in overcrowded schools, the large student populations place an overwhelming demand on dwindling resources and supplies, exacerbating school conditions at a rapid pace.

When toilets don’t work or the heat doesn’t stay on, we place an undue burden on our children and it falls disproportionately on poorer neighborhoods. These are basic things that any one of us would take care of in the privacy of our own home, and the city needs to give the same priority to these issues at our children’s schools. This should increase the urgency of our endeavor.

The City of New York and the Department of Education must allocate sufficient funding to address these problems in our school buildings. School cleaners and handypersons need the right resources and manpower to keep school buildings operating. And just as years of advocacy by parents, students and community organizations got the city to cut the timeline in half to remove toxic PCBs from public school lights, we must focus as a community on the improvement of our children’s school buildings and give them the learning environment they deserve.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is the Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee and is a member of the Committees on Parks and Recreation, Civil Rights, Consumer Affairs, Economic Development, Finance and Health.

 

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New Ozone Park school begins construction


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of School Construction Authority

Soon, school bells will be ringing.

Officials held a ground-breaking ceremony for a new elementary school in Ozone Park today.

The facility will hold nearly 450 students and open next year.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, representatives for State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assembymember Mike Miller along with officials from the School Construction Authority led the ceremony for P.S. 316 at 90-07 101st Avenue.

The $38 million project is on the site formerly occupied by St. Stanislaus Catholic elementary school. P.S. 316 will accommodate students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Along with the school, a new playground will be built across the street.


Patricia McCabe, chief of staff for State Senator Joseph Addabbo; Lorraine Grillo, head of the School Construction Authority; Councilmember Eric Ulrich; Mary Ann Maltese, chief of staff for Assemblymember Michael Miller; and Monica Gutierrez, community relations manager for the School Construction Authority break ground on P.S. 316. (THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen)

 

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