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Parents, Teachers Hold Rally for Sunnyside-Woodside Middle School


Oct. 19, 2015 By Christian Murray

About 75 adults—many accompanied by their children–turned out for a rally on 48th Street Sunday to call on the Department of Education to construct a middle school in the neighborhood.

The attendees gathered around a makes-shift stage set up near the corner of 37th Avenue and 48th Street, adjacent to a lot that they deemed suitable for Sunnyside/Woodside’s next middle school.

Sean McGowan, who formed the Sunnyside Woodside Middle School Project with his wife Deb last year, told the attendees that the Department of Education has recently built two new elementary schools—P.S. 361 in Woodside and P.S. 343 in Sunnyside—and is constructing an annex at P.S. 11 in Woodside, yet does not have plans to build a new middle school.

He said that all these additional elementary school children will be directed to I.S. 125 in Woodside for middle school and that there will not be enough seats.

While 655 permanent seats are in the process of being constructed at I.S. 125 (replacing the 240-seat mini school), McGowan does not believe that is enough given the number of elementary school students in the district.

McGowan said he and his wife reached out to the School Construction Authority last year to find out whether one could be built. He said the SCA told them that it requires a site that is at least 30,000 square feet and preferably flat.

“They said ‘find us a site and let us know.””

They initially looked at a site on the corner of Barnett Ave. and 48th Street—but the owner of the property told them he did not want to sell. They also looked at a site on 43rd Street (by Lou Lodati Park) where the FDNY proposed locating its backup fleet of trucks—although that appears unlikely.

McGowan said that local officials wrote a letter of support in May to the DOE calling for a new middle school in the neighborhood. The DOE responded by saying one was not needed.

The Sunnyside Woodside MSP generated 630 signatures in support of a middle school, McGowan said, and the elected officials reached out again to the DOE and they were told yet again that a new middle school was not needed.

The DOE, in a letter, said that I.S. 125 would have the seats needed. In addition to the new seats that are being constructed, it said the school is no longer catering to grades 5-8, but grades 6 through 8 only and is operating below 80 percent utilization.

However, the McGowan’s claim they are not backing away from the fight. In recent weeks, they have found the site by 37th Avenue that is owned by the Department of Transportation.

McGowan said that there has been discussion about environmental issues regarding the site. However, he said if there are problems, they will just find another location.

Deb McGowan, told the group that the DOE and SCA needs to start working on bringing a middle school to the neighborhood now. “It takes 5 years to do it, 3 years to build it, 6 months for the bidding and 1 ½ years design and approvals.”

Representatives for Catherine Nolan, State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer all spoke and provided their support a new school. A representative for Congressman Joseph Crowley also attended.

“With the proliferation and development of elementary schools the need to expand the number of middle schools in Sunnyside and Woodside should be obvious,” said a spokesman for Mike Gianaris. He added that the Department of Education should be listening to the community.

Cathy Nolan’s spokesperson, Ira Greenberg, also said that there is a real need for middle school to be built in School District 30, which encompasses Sunnyside and Woodside.

“If this space doesn’t turn into a middle school, then another space will be turned into a middle school,” said Jason Banrey, who spoke on behalf of Jimmy Van Bramer.

Deborah and Sean McGowan, Ty Sullivan

Deborah and Sean McGowan, Ty Sullivan



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Click for Comments 
City Schools Are Overcrowded, With No End in Sight By Yasmeen Khan reported on 9.23.2015

Citywide we are looking at 17,000 seats shortage that the current capital plan is NOT addressing. Seats is just another way to say students. DOE just bought another site to build an elementary school near PS152 in District 30. St. Theresa’s is under renovation to be +250 seat elementary school. Ideally schools should be at an 80% capacity so they can have classroom space designated for art, music, science and offices for guidance,etc. DOE claims of 80% capacity at IS125 will only come true after the addition and they don’t take in district 30 students. The whole reason IS125 is even getting an addition is because of the efforts to remove all of the DOE’s old transportables throughout the city.


IS 125 has enough room at 80% capacity and no longer having PS 199s 5th grade to take the all 6th graders from PS 11 and PS 150 at the end of 5th grade. This will open more space for our elementary school students and more PreKs. This should start next September.


Considering how cold it was, there were a lot of people there. I was there in spirit because I thought it was too cold to be outside with my 2 small kids.


Nobody with a brain in their head wants to send their kids to that zoo. It was a dump back when I was a kid.


Mabye it was a bad school when YOU were a kid, but now its amazing. Im an 8th grader and the teachers are so nice, and i really do learn plelty. The deans make sure everyone is controlled and if a student does something bad or dangerous, they will get suspended. We have many community activites such as flag day and the talent show. It really isnt a bad school. I love it.


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