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Schools Perform Well Despite Operating Above Capacity

QUEENS — At a meeting of District 24 parents at I.S. 61 in September 2012, the Department of Education laid out a plan to alleviate crowding by creating a new school in 2015 that would house between 800 and 825 sixth- through eighth-graders.

But in what has become illustrative of the largest problem faced by Corona and Elmhurst parents, DOE officials explained that the new school would operate at more than 100 percent capacity.

It's an issue that has gone hand-in-hand with the area's population boom: As more immigrant families move to Queens, resources have been stretched thin. And almost all of the elementary schools in Corona and Elmhurst suffer from overcrowding.

That issue is unlikely to go away. The school district's population continues to grow, thanks, in large part, to an influx of Mexican and Ecuadorian families into Corona. The population of that neighborhood jumped from 98,841 to 109,931 between 2000 and 2010 — an increase of more than 11 percent — even as there was a slight decrease in Elmhurst's population, according to Census data.

"Unfortunately, many of our children grow up in an overcrowded elementary school, and then go to an overcrowded junior high school, to then go to an overcrowded high school," Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said at the fall meeting.

District 24 is one of the two most overcrowded districts in New York City, according to a 2011 analysis by the Independent Budget Office, and data from the School Construction Authority show that of the 12 elementary schools in Corona and Elmhurst, nine are above 100 percent capacity. (One of those schools, P.S. 92, is in Corona but is part of District 30.)

Despite these difficulties, some higher-performing elementary schools in the neighborhood have risen to the challenge.

P.S. 16 in Corona, which is at 128 percent capacity, received a C in student performance on the DOE's school progress report in 2011, and a B overall that year.

In 2012, the school showed a marked improvement across the board. Having raised student performance drastically, and scoring A's across the board, the school has become one of the better-performing elementary schools in the area.

Corona's P.S. 19, where students are shuffled into portable classrooms, has also received high marks from the DOE.

In Elmhurst, the story is very much the same, but the neighborhood is also home to one of the city's better-performing schools.

The 51st Avenue Academy, which operates at 126 percent of capacity, performs consistently well by DOE standards. The school, which houses fourth and fifth grade, earned an A in 2012 and performs in the 95th percentile of all city elementary schools.

Recognizing the problem of overcrowding, the city is continuing to build new schools in the area. P.S. 315, which is expected to house 1,110 students, is under construction and is set to open in 2015.

Here are some of Corona's and Elmhurst's noteworthy elementary schools:

P.S. 13, Clement C. Moore, 55-01 94th St.

The K-5 school's 111 percent utilization rate is actually one of area's lowest. The school has received a steady stream of A grades over the years and teaches kids to do online research through a special program, according to Insideschools.

P.S. 330, 86-37 53rd Ave.

Opened in 2010 to help alleviate crowding, this school will move in September 2013 and be renamed P.S. 287. Currently at a 61 percent utilization rate, it features a visual arts program that includes print making, painting and sculpture. It will serve kindergarten through fifth grade when expanded to full capacity.

The 51st Avenue Academy, 76-05 51st Ave.

Despite being over capacity, this school, which teaches fourth- and fifth-graders, has managed to become one of the highest-performing elementary schools in the city. Its academic programs include writer workshops and author studies, while featuring extracurricular activities like ballroom dancing.

P.S. 16, Nancy DeBenedittis, 41-15 104th St.

In 2011, P.S. 16 was given a B grade with just 49.9 points, and got a C in student progress. In 2012, the K-5 school received an A with 75.5 points, and marked improvements across the board.

P.S. 19, Marino Jeantet, 98-02 Roosevelt Ave.

Even though portable classrooms were added almost 20 years ago to fix overcrowding, the neighborhood's growing population has kept this school hovering at 126 percent capacity. But it also boasts a Spanish-English dual-language program that starts in kindergarten, according to Insideschools.

P.S. 92, Harry T. Stewart Sr., 99-01 34th Ave.

After school performance took a leap, P.S. 92 went from a B in 2011 to an A in 2012. The school has strong music and arts programs, according to Insideschools.