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New K-8 School Planned for Third Avenue in Sunset Park

By Leslie Albrecht | February 10, 2015 8:50am
 Plans are underway to bring a 676-seat, K-8 school to this vacant land on Third Avenue between 59th and 60th streets in Sunset Park, officials said.
Plans are underway to bring a 676-seat, K-8 school to this vacant land on Third Avenue between 59th and 60th streets in Sunset Park, officials said.
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SUNSET PARK — A new 676-seat school is set to rise on a vacant lot on Third Avenue.

The Department of Education plans to build the K-8 school on the west side of Third Avenue between 59th and 60th streets, a DOE spokesman said.  The school could potentially open in 2019, but that date could change, the spokesman said. Design on the new building hasn't started yet.

The school will help ease crowded classrooms in District 20, which covers all of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and the Fort Hamilton Army base, as well as parts of Bensonhurst, Kensington, Borough Park and Sunset Park, said Laurie Windsor, president of the District 20 Community Education Council.

“We’re all thrilled,” Windsor said. “We’re in desperate need of seats. We’ve gotten new seats, but we still need more.”

The DOE's capital plan has called for adding about 7,000 seats to the district for roughly 10 years, but those needs have largely gone unmet because the agency hasn't been able to find spots to build new facilities, Windsor said.

Some new schools have opened in the district in recent years, including P.S./I.S. 30 in 2013 and P.S. 748 in 2010. But District 20 is still so crowded that students get bused to less packed schools in the district, rather than attending the school closest to their home.

One school building, P.S. 176, is at 175 percent capacity, Windsor said.

“When you have schools that are so crowded, you start losing your art rooms, your computer rooms, all the stuff that rounds out the well-educated child,” Windsor said. “It’s horrible for the kids.”

She called the vacant lot at Third Avenue and 59th Street a "windfall" because it's big enough to accommodate a 47,000-square-foot school.

Developer Sam Chang had once planned to build a hotel on the land, but the project didn't move forward, said Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer. The new school will be across busy Third Avenue from P.S. 506 and P.S. 503, which share a building.

News of the new school comes as parents in neighboring District 15, which stretches from Sunset Park to Fort Greene, recently mounted a campaign to demand a new school in their crowded district.

Some education leaders in District 15 say they're so desperate for new seats that they want the DOE to consider placing new schools on a more northern section of Third Avenue, even as some parents have balked at sending kids to school along the six-lane trucking route.

Windsor said that's a worry for parents on District 20's end of Sunset Park too.

“As a parent, I totally understand that concern," Windsor said. "That’s something we’ll have to look at and be cautious about in terms of design, and entrances and exits."

The DOE plans to open seven new schools in District 20 by about 2020.

Community Board 7 will host a public hearing about the new Third Avenue school with representatives from the School Construction Authority on Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the board's office, 4201 Fourth Ave.