One of the most crowded districts in the school system will see some relief in the next few years. Elected officials joined school leaders at P.S. 11 in Woodside, Queens on Friday to unveil plans for a new annex which will seat over 350 students when it opens, likely in 2016.
The new building came after years of work, said school principal Anna Efkarpides. It started in 2011 when Jeff Guyton, co-president of Community Education Council 30, asked what the CEC could help do for the school. Efkarpides had a clear answer.
“Get me a building,” she said. “We’re too overcrowded; the classes are too big. We need to do something about it. Our transportables are beginning to fall apart.”
Transportables are the trailer classrooms that are well past their 10-year shelf life.
The elementary school has about 1,300 students enrolled this year, 20 percent over the school’s capacity. It recently got a citation from the Fire Department for too many children in the hallways.
The president of the School Construction Authority, Lorraine Grillo, said it would be a challenge to build the annex in the courtyard while school is in session; it's not clear where to place children who otherwise would be in the trailers.
“But at the end of the day, we’ll do it,” she said. “We’ll do it well.”
For all the enthusiasm about the new annex at P.S. 11, the problem of overcrowding remains a major issue in this section of Queens, including neighborhoods like Woodside, Sunnyside and Jackson Heights.
“It’s a really attractive place to live and I know our schools are good,” said Guyton. “When people from all across the world understand that it’s a community that welcomes them, they continue coming.”
City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer said the city plans to open four new schools between 2013 and 2015 in parts of Queens. They include: IS/HS 404 in Hunters Point, PS/IS 312 in Long Island City, PS 313 in Sunnyside, and a still-unnamed school at 39th Avenue and 57th Street.