Queens 'Epicenter for Schools Overcrowding' Works Within Limitations

By Jeanmarie Evelly on February 11, 2013 6:38am 

WOODSIDE — Space has been an issue for years at schools in Woodside and Sunnyside, which straddle Districts 30 and 24 in western Queens, an area city officials have referred to as the "epicenter for overcrowding."

Woodside's popular but crowded P.S. 11 will be getting a new building in the next few years to help relieve some of its packed classrooms, but for now, about 220 students are taught in classrooms housed within hulking red trailers in the school yard.

The trailers were supposed to be temporary but have been at the school for 12 years, Principal Anna Efkarpides said. The staff makes do, she said, and P.S. 11 has scored an A on its Department of Education progress reports for the past two school years.

Another sought-after school in the area is Sunnyside's P.S. 150, known for its gifted and talented program that feeds into a much-coveted G&T middle school in Astoria at P.S. 122, called The Academy (though the city is considering a change in the eligibility requirements for that program, which would require fifth-graders at P.S. 150 to re-apply to the middle school instead of getting an automatic transfer).

P.S. 150 is on the north end of Sunnyside and zoned for District 30, and is more popular among young parents than the other area school, P.S. 199, which lies south of Queens Boulevard in District 24, according to longtime Sunnyside real estate broker Eleonora Dantchev.

“The north side is more desirable,” Dantchev said. “As soon as their kids hit kindergarten, everybody wants to move to the north side.”

Though P.S. 150 is in more demand, P.S. 199 received the same high grades on the city’s Department of Education progress reports for the past three years — A markings in 2012 and 2011 and B during the 2009-2010 school year. P.S. 199 students also scored well on the state's math and English exams last year, higher than the citywide average for the same age group.

Sunnyside resident Kunzang Choden’s two sons both attended P.S. 199 from kindergarten on, and she said she values the school's staff, including Principal Anthony Inzerillo. Her youngest son, 9-year-old Kalden, is a fourth-grader at the school.

“For two years I had the same teacher, and she’s the best,” Kalden Choden said. “The principal is all the time outside, trying to talk to parents. He’s really friendly.”

However, P.S. 199, which is a K-4 school, has space issues of its own, and teaches four of its classes off-site at an annex in a city-leased building on nearby 37th Street, the site of former parochial school St. Raphael's.

Here are some of Woodside's and Sunnyside's noteworthy public elementary schools:

P.S. 11, Kathryn M. Phelan, 54-25 Skillman Ave.
P.S. 11 is a highly regarded school in Woodside led by Anna Efkarpides, who taught there for years before taking over as principal in 2001. The school has suffered from overcrowding in recent years but will be getting a new annex building to replace its longtime trailer classrooms.

P.S. 150, Queens, 40-01 43 Ave.
This popular school on the north side of Sunnyside feeds into a highly coveted G&T middle school in Astoria at P.S. 122, though the city has recently proposed changing that admissions policy.

P.S. 199, Maurice A. Fitzgerald, 39-20 48th Ave.
Located south of Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, P.S. 199 is not as sought-after as nearby P.S. 150, but it has received good reviews from the DOE in  recent years, and students performed well on last year's state exams. However, the school runs only through fourth grade and has some space problems, with several classes taught off-site in a nearby former parochial school building.

P.S. 152, Gwendoline N. Alleyne, 33-52 62nd St.
This K-6 school in eastern Woodside got an A on its past three DOE progress reports.  It hosts an after-school program run by local nonprofit Woodside on the Move. According to the website InsideSchools, P.S. 152 focuses heavily on arts education and on physical activity.

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