You are reading

Woodside Couple, With the Help of Elected Officials, Call on School Officials to Find a Site For Another Middle School

Middle School IS 125

Sept. 8, 2014 By Christian Murray

A Woodside couple with two small children has started a campaign to bring another middle school to the Sunnyside/Woodside area.

Sean and Deb McGowan, who both live in the Berkeley Towers, have enlisted the help of the School Construction Authority as well as local politicians in their quest to find a location where one can be built.

The duo are also looking to build community support for a new school and over the weekend set up a Facebook page where people could come together to discuss the cause. The page is called Sunnyside Woodside Middle School Project.

Sean McGowan, who spoke at the monthly Community Board 2 meeting Thursday, said that he was impressed by the number of new elementary schools that are being built in the area. However, he said he was concerned about where all these students will go once they hit middle school.

Historically, students from elementary schools PS 150 (40-01 43 Ave.), PS 199 (39-20 48th Ave.) and PS 11 (54-25 Skillman Ave.) have attended IS 125, a 1,700-student middle school located at 46-02 47th Avenue that is already overcrowded. While a 600-seat addition is scheduled to be built at IS 125, most of those seats will cater to the students who were once in trailers.

However, the number of students that are expected to go to middle school is likely to grow—as indicated by the opening of PS 343, the new elementary located at 45-46 42nd Street in Sunnyside, and PS339, an elementary school that is being built at 39-07 57th Street in Woodside. Furthermore, 300 seats are being added to PS 11.

“Where will all these children go to middle school?” Deb McGowan asked. “IS 125, while a good school, is already large and overcrowded.”

In April, Deb McGowan was at an education meeting where she got the opportunity to speak to School Chancellor Carmen Farina about the issue and provided her with a list of possible sites where a middle school could go.

“She took my list and within days I got a call from the head of the School Construction Authority [Lorraine Grillo],” Deb McGowan said. The School Construction Authority is taking the matter very seriously, she said, since “whenever I reach out to Lorraine she gets back to me within a day.”

The McGowans have taken up the cause with Congressman Joe Crowley, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

On August 18, Nolan and Crowley wrote a letter to Farina that stated: “We write to you as concerned elected officials regarding the shortage of middle schools…. We ask you to work with us and come up with a plan to build additional middle schools in our districts.”

Van Bramer said recently that he, too, is looking for sites for a middle school.

Sean McGowan said that the School Construction Authority needs a site that is no less than 12,000 square feet to build a school. He said the school could be built on its own lot—or it could even be located on the ground floor of a large residential/commercial building.

“The issue is space and we ask people to let us know of any sites that could be used,” Sean said.

The couple has asked the School Construction Authority to research sites along Barnett Avenue and to investigate the 39-34 43rd Street site that was considered by the Fire Department.

email the author:


Click for Comments 

Finally worst of all I would venture to bet that over time the majority of those kids would likely not even be from the Sunnyside area

@doc – saner words have never been spoken – I vote to protect my most precious investment which is my home from some of these militant moms. if they feel that strongly about school proximity to their homes then I’m sure they could work out a deal with Sunnyside Gardens Park which would really be the best fit for them. Oy!


It’s great to have the 7 train run through the area but I sure as hell would not want to live next door to it. Go check out IS 125 some morning or afternoon and tell us that you would like a zoo like that built across from your home. It is not NIMBY to protect the value of your largest investment, it is common sense.
Good schools can raise property values overall but, check with any realtor and you will find having a school right on your block is not considered an asset. Please don’t start the “you hate children” BS.


I should also add the invisible cancer-causing electromagnetic rays coming in from the rail yards behind the property should be particularly alarming to parents as well in addition to slopes incline down towards the dangerous Amtrak rail beds below frequented by the homeless.


Hazardous fuel pipelines near school children is most certainly a dangerous combination. One wrong move during demolition/construction/post could be disastrous for the entire nabe. just not worth the risk when there are better alternatives

Skillman Ave Resident

Melissa, why would you even write “not in my backyard” comment and call kids “mob of teens”. Yes we need school and that location would be perfect because it is away from busy street like Queens Blvd. The pipeline is not a problem since it is next to playground/park and so far nothing happen to kids or to pipeline. Some of the families who need a new middle school live in the Sunnyside Gardens and would benefit from this location.

43rd & 43rd

Seems like not a great location. That park is right next door. Sketchy people hang out there (remember all those posts about lakes of pee?). I don’t want to give them more space to hang out in, and you probably don’t want your kids hanging out where they do.

It isn’t very accessible on foot either, since it’s on the intersection of two pretty major roads (43rd St. & Skillman Ave.). Do you want hundreds of kids crossing busy roads, or do you want to add speedbumps to some of the area’s few thru roads, totally change traffic patterns, and make drivers more irritable/aggressive?

I know we have to put something there, but I’m not sure a school is the answer.


Agree nabe could use a new school but honestly the last thing we need is a mob of teens traipsing around the gardens disturbing the peace. besides, that 43rd street site has a labrynthe of dangerous petrol pipelines underneath that entire side of the block that fuels our local airports. In fact, there was a pipeline explosion and fire around there not log ago prompting a press conference from Jimmy Van Bramer to address the issue so not a very good idea industrial areas best


Oh wow, Isn’t this what I’ve been saying for like..EVER? But you get two hippy hipsters who are all “My child will not go to school with those dangerous project kids” and now it’s like…a thing.

I’ll tell you where they can build a middle school. right behind the damn park that ya people didn’t want the FDNY to get. I would love for construction to just ruin that guy who posted up those idiotic signs about noise.

Skillman Ave Resident

I hope that it will happen soon, that they select side and start building school at the same speed they did PS 343.My son is in 4th grade now at PS 150 and I would love him to be able to walk to a new school in the neighborhood with no trailers but nice yard to practice sports . If they would build at 39-34 43rd Street site that was considered by the Fire Department they could use the park during school hours for gym activities. This site would be perfect for PS150 students.


The best access on Barnett Avenue is between 48th and 43rd Streets. Barnett between Woodside Avenue and 48th is heavily trafficked by businesses on both sides of the LIRR.

Julio Diaz

I have two children that attend P.S. 150.
I believe that a new school is needed. I live in Woodside. I work in Brooklyn and many new schools are been built there. The time for a new and modern school in Woodside is now. I will show my support for that cause. Thanks to the Councilan Van Bramer for his help. I would like to also thank the Mcgowans for stepping up for a good cause that we all had in mind. Woodside, Queens the time for a modern, safe And new Middle School is now.


As a parent of 3, two currently in PS 11 and a third starting Pre-K this year, I am looking toward the future of their education. PS 11 is currently undergoing expansion. And we must have a plan of action in place BEFORE the process of attaining an appropriate Middle School becomes as enerving as the bussing situation that was laid before us. I applaud our local representatives effort to stay ahead of the curve.

Stay Loose, Sunnyside

As someone with a young child at the beautiful new Q343, I am so grateful that this couple did the math. We need to keep the kids in the neighborhood in modern, safe facilities. I am glad we have Jimmy Van Bramer working on this, too. Finding a space this size is a tall order in our area.


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

AG James announces dismantling of Queens-based ghost gun trafficking operation

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday the takedown of a prolific Queens-based gun trafficking crew accused of selling firearms and ammo at an East Elmhurst playground, the Queens Center Mall and other locations around the borough.

James secured a 625-count indictment charging five men for participating in the gun smuggling ring, which involved selling dozens of ghost guns, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.