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Hundreds of New School Seats Planned for 'Epicenter of Overcrowding'

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 15, 2012 8:18am

WOODSIDE — More than 700 new seats are coming to area schools in hopes of providing relief to districts some consider to be the ground zero of overcrowding, officials said in a town hall meeting earlier this week.

A new elementary school, P.S. 339, will have about 470 seats for local children. Another elementary school, P.S. 11, considered one of the most overcrowded in the city, will receive an annex.

That location will add an additional 300 seats to the school.

"There is no area of the city that is more crowded than this immediate area, the District 24 and District 30 line," said Jim Dandeneau, of the city’s Department of Education, in announcing the plan Tuesday plan.

New schools, said Dandeneau, are “intended to ease some of that pressure.”

He added that local schools have been functioning well over capacity for many years. P.S. 11, for instance, has been at 127 percent capacity; P.S. 150 at 110 percent capacity; and P.S. 152 at 120 percent capacity.

P.S. 339 will be built at 57th Street and 39th Avenue, where there is currently a printing facility. The new school will be two blocks away from P.S. 11, which is located on Skillman Avenue.

The five-story building, scheduled to open in 2015, will provide classrooms for children from Pre-K to 5th grade. It will feature a small gym as well as art, science and music classrooms.

Classrooms for the youngest children will have bathrooms inside, said Mary Leas from the School Construction Authority.

Leas said the planned annex to P.S. 11 has been included in an amendment to the capital plan.

The extra seats there will ease crowding for students who have been using portable classrooms.

The date of the construction of the annex has not been specified, Leas said, but it will be “some time after 2015.”

City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who organized the meeting, said P.S. 339 will also serve as a “bridge” during the time of the annex construction, when children from P.S. 11 who study in portable classrooms “will have to go somewhere from those trailers.”

Jeffrey Guyton, a member of the Community Education Council in District 30, said the addition of new seats was good news for the area that he called “the epicenter of overcrowding.”

“Last year, we were cited by the Fire Department for teaching in the hallways,” he said, referring to P.S. 11. “We have kids who are taking classes in basically storage and janitorial closets.”