Despite overcrowding crisis, new Sunnyside school will open with empty seats
By Bill Parry
A number of residents with school-aged children were stunned to learn at a town hall meeting Thursday night that the new elementary school being constructed on 42nd Street is unlikely to be filled with students upon its completion.
The 430-seat school, being built at 45-46 42nd Street, is only going to cater to kindergarten and first graders upon opening, according to public officials who hosted a meeting pertaining to schools south of Queens Blvd at the Sunnyside Community Services Center.
The new school, PS 313, will eventually cater to students from kindergarten through 5th grade.
While many in attendance were surprised to hear that the school will not be fully utilized at first, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer were quick to point out that it was Department of Education policy and that policy might change.
“Many years ago they’d open with a full school,” said Nolan, “but the DOE wasn’t happy with the results, so this is the system.”
The two leaders said they would seek an exception. Nolan added that by the time the school is ready to open New York City will have a new mayor, perhaps one willing to change the current policy.
William Kregler, a representative of Community Education Council 24, said that there will be some relief, despite the policy.“When you have two classes at PS 313, it will free up space at PS 199. It’s not immediate relief; that will take time,” he said.
Kregler added that PS 313 is no magic bullet. However, “to our
pride we’re adding more seats directly to the areas that need them. Are we playing catch-up, of course we are.”
Meanwhile, Jim Dandeneau, a spokesman for the Department of
Education, said the school wouldn’t solve the overcrowding problem, adding that “the district [district 24] is the most overcrowded in the city.”