Tag Archives: School Construction Authority

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”




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


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.



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.



Op-Ed: School buildings need adequate funding

| oped@queenscourier.com


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.





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)



Community board chair fires back at Walcott over school employee threats

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The city’s schools chancellor chastised a community board leader after residents allegedly threatened his employees at a rowdy Bayside meeting last week.

“I would never allow anyone to be treated in this manner and would expect that you have the same standard,” Dennis Walcott said.

The head of the city’s public education system expressed his “extreme dismay” at a heated Community Board 11 meeting last Monday, when one male and one female resident allegedly verbally threatened two School Construction Authority (SCA) officials.

An older man approached Chris Persheff, the SCA’s Queens site selection manager, called him a liar and threatened to break his legs, The Courier reported last week.

After that, an unidentified person allegedly followed Persheff’s partner, Monica Gutierrez, by car until Gutierrez pulled into an empty lot, city reps said.

The SCA officials were pitching a plan to build an elementary school for 416 students at 210-11 48th Avenue when the May 6 meeting grew contentious.

They plan to file a police report and might take legal action against the alleged belligerents, Gutierrez said.
The altercations occurred after the meeting had adjourned.

In a letter, Walcott said Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece “enabled this behavior by not drawing any boundaries to the abuse.”

He said the proposed new school would alleviate overcrowded facilities in the area. But enraged residents said it would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic congestion and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

Iannece fired back in a letter, defending his decade-long, “impeccable” reputation for fairness and order.

“As an uncompensated volunteer who has spent countless hours for the betterment of my community, I take personal offense by your remarks,” he said. “It is an affront to me and to all community board chairs, [who] do so much for our city.”

The community board’s education committee said bringing P.S. 130 back to their district would relieve area school congestion. The 200-01 42nd Avenue school is located within District 26, but has mostly served students from District 25 for at least two decades.

Moving the school back to its original district has long been deemed unviable by education officials.

Iannece invited the schools chancellor to review the meeting’s recorded minutes, which he said include a “poor presentation” by the SCA officials.

The two residents’ identities were not known as of press time.

“Although I can appreciate your desire to protect the staff,” Iannece said, “misplaced anger, compounded by erroneous accusations, doesn’t help.”



City may take legal action after contentious Bayside community board meeting

| mchan@queenscourier.com

The city might take legal action after two school construction officials were threatened Monday at a contentious community board meeting.

Bayside residents were enraged at a proposal by the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) to build a 416-seat elementary school at 210-11 48th Avenue.

They said it would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic congestion and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

But two attendees took it too far, said Monica Gutierrez, one of two SCA representatives who pitched the application at the May 6 hearing.

Gutierrez said a woman in her 60s approached the pair of speakers after the meeting adjourned and verbally threatened them. Someone then allegedly followed Gutierrez in a car until she pulled into an empty lot.

“She said, ‘You’ll have what’s coming to you. You’ll see,’” Gutierrez said. “When you threaten somebody, there are repercussions. They’re not above the law. They acted very barbaric.”

An older man also approached Chris Persheff, the agency’s Queens site selection manager, at the end of the meeting. The man called Persheff a liar and threatened to break his legs, according to the manager.

“I’ve done this a lot,” he said. “Usually the audience can sort of separate whatever I’m saying with the issue at hand. I’ve never had this personalized before like this.”

Gutierrez said the angry resident “tried to be all up against” Persheff. She said she grabbed the man and told him to calm down.

“It’s too vulnerable of a position to be in,” Persheff said. “It’s just unacceptable.”

Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece said emotions were high, but the threats were uncalled for.

“The residents are very frustrated. They’re skeptical about what they don’t know,” he said. “But I don’t condone violence in any form. There’s no place for intimidation.”

Gutierrez said the city may take legal action against the alleged verbal assailants.

A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education said the department is “taking appropriate action.”

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott expressed his “extreme dismay” of the fracas in a letter to Iannece. He said the community board chair “enabled this behavior by not drawing any boundaries to the abuse.”

“I would never allow anyone to be treated in this manner and would expect that you have the same standard,” Walcott said.

Persheff said he would file a police report but had no further comment.

The two residents’ identities were not known as of press time.

“We’ve been in bad neighborhoods, low economic areas, and they treat us with respect,” Gutierrez said. “Yes, they voice their minds, but they respect people.”

“It’s sad,” she continued. “These people are adults, and that’s how they are treating people. We’re just out there trying to do our jobs.”



Bayside residents oppose school in place of Keil Bros Garden Center

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Build a school, say Bayside residents, just not in our backyards.

Community Board (CB) 11 voted against a controversial proposal to build an elementary school in the place of a popular garden center after enraged residents who live near the 210-11 48th Avenue site vehemently opposed it.

“This area is saturated with schools, and we can’t stand it anymore,” said resident Mandingo Tshaka. “Hell, no. That’s all I’m going to say.”

The owners of Keil Bros Garden Center and Nursery have struck a deal with the city to sell their entire Bayside property, including a home next to the store, for an undisclosed amount.

Ronald Keil, vice president of the family-run business, cited “the changing nature of the retail world” and “increasing costs of doing business” as reasons for the sale.

“Basically, it’s an uncertain economy,” he said.

Residents said the 416-seat school would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic congestion and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

“It’s really a disaster in the making,” said Toby Pagano, 64, of Bayside. “I would be horrified, but not surprised, if there was an accident.”

There are 21 elementary schools in the district and 12 within CB 11’s jurisdiction, according to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of Community Board 11.

Local educators said the majority of them are heavily congested, with registration growing every year.

At least three schools have had to put classrooms in space originally meant for libraries or music, Seinfeld said.

“There’s an opportunity for a school to be built,” P.S. 41 Principal Sari Latto said. “We’re hoping that will alleviate some of that overcrowding.”

No designs for a new school have been laid out yet, according to School Construction Authority officials. The site selection process began in 2008 and honed in on the disputed site last month.

According to Keil, the city approached his 83-year-old business within the last two years. He said he and his brother are exploring options to continue the store in another part of Queens.

The garden center will be open for regular business for the rest of the year.

CB 11’s advisory vote now heads to the City Council for a final ruling.

“I do get the need for new schools,” said resident Carol Shriver, 55. “I understand that. But this is wrong. This is just the wrong place to build a school. They’re just asking for trouble.”




New schools to ease overcrowding in western Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of SCA

Two new schools will help alleviate overcrowding in Jackson Heights and Corona in the next two years, according to the School Construction Authority (SCA).

The first school, P.S. 287, is scheduled to debut this September at 110-08 Northern Boulevard in Corona. Located in District 24, the four-story building will serve pre-K through fifth grade and have a 420 student capacity, said the SCA.

I.S. 297 will be completed by September 2014 at 33-55 74th Street in Jackson Heights as part of District 30. The school is expected to have four floors, serve sixth through eighth grade and have a 400 student capacity.

“These two new schools, together with the ground we broke on the addition to P.S. 70, will go a long way towards easing overcrowding in western Queens schools. But, there is still more work to be done,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr.

District 30 has been in need of more schools to keep up with a growing population, school leaders said.

“The more crowded it is, the harder it is to get things done, even with parents picking their kids up,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the District 30 Community Education Council. “Anytime we get seats, anytime we get schools, it’s good for us. We’re grateful for anything that we are given.”

Overcrowding has also been a problem in District 24 as school construction failed to keep up with the growing population of families, especially new immigrants looking to make the neighborhoods in the district their home, according to InsideSchools.org.

“I have been in constant contact with the Department of Education to ensure that a comprehensive plan is established to address the overcrowding in my district,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.

Last March, the department announced it would add 6,000 new school seats over the next two years in order to ease overcrowding in the borough.

According to the SCA, along with the brand-new school buildings, P.S. 287 will have two playgrounds at the back of the school. I.S. 297’s playground will be located on land purchased by the city across the street from the school.


I.S. 297 rendering 



Corona school plans halted over street closure

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of DOE

Concerned over congestion, a Community Board slammed on the brakes when construction plans for a Corona school involved a temporary street closing.

According to Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol, the board voted down the motion 14 to 10 when the Department of Education (DOE) and the School Construction Authority (SCA) requested 44th Avenue between 97th Place and Junction Boulevard be closed for the duration of the P.S. 315’s construction, adding that the proposal also included 97th Place be turned into a northbound one-way street.

Expected to be completed by 2015, P.S. 315 will cost $40 million and house 1,100 students. According to a DOE spokesperson, Community Board 4’s vote against the street closing does not stop SCA from continuing with the project. The spokesperson added that the DOE has submitted a request for street closure with the Department of Transportation (DOT), which has not yet approved.

Recognizing the desperate need for a new school in the neighborhood, fraught with severe overcrowding, Cassagnol said it’s not the school itself the board is against, but the street closure that the SCA feels is a necessary part of its construction.

Cassagnol alleged that several community board members were displeased with the design of the school, stating that while the design was beautiful, it did not conform to the aesthetic of the surrounding neighborhood. The school’s location had also formerly been disputed over. According to Cassagnol, Community Board 4’s former District Manager Richard Italiano proposed several alternate locations for the school that were all turned down by city officials.

Representatives from the SCA could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Added room will help expand minds in Middle Village

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Middle Village students will soon have more room to expand their minds.

Construction is underway on an extension at P.S./I.S 87 in Middle Village that will add a gym, music room and classrooms, among other amenities, to the school.

In 2002, the school — located at 67-54 80th Street — expanded to add grades six through eight, which meant the gym needed to be upgraded, said Nick Comaianni, president of Community Education Council 24.

Currently, the students are cramped into a lunchroom during gym, which parents and leaders have said for years needed an upgrade.

Then Chancellor Joel Klein was given a tour of the facilities in 2009 by Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. Klein again visited the school in 2010 for a CEC24 meeting where Comaianni, students and parents displayed the need for a new gym.

After that visit, Klein emailed Comaianni, informing him he would instruct the School Construction Authority to approve an extension for the school.

The project was added to the budget and approved by the city council in July of 2010.

The $21 million expansion will include the new gym with bleachers, a boys’ and girls’ locker room, a music room with storage, a practice room, four new air conditioned classrooms, a boys’ and girls’ bathroom in the basement and on the first and second floors and an elevator, the DOE said. The existing building will also receive a new fire alarm system, a new air conditioner in the existing auditorium and a new early child playground.

“Parents deserve to send their child to a local school with small class sizes and the resources necessary to ensure a quality education,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “This new extension will help P.S./I.S. 87 meet these goals. Whether it’s working on their jump shots or learning the clarinet, students will finally have the proper facilities in smaller class sizes for a well-rounded education. I was proud to work with the Department of Education and the Middle Village community to get this project started.”

Because the school was originally intended for elementary students, many facilities were not suitable for middle schoolers, something this addition should change, Comaianni said.

“Now, it’s a real K to eight [institution],” he said

The construction, which began earlier this summer, is scheduled to be completed by the start of next school year, according to the Department of Education.