BY JON CRONIN
The left field announcement that the new elementary school under construction in Centreville may become a middle school was dismissed by Betty Braton, Community Board 10 chairperson at last week’s meeting.
Braton said the idea of the new school on Albert Road serving as a middle school was brought up at District 27’s Community Education Council meeting at the end of April when School’s Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited. The idea, she noted, was that it would relieve middle school overcrowding at schools as far away as PS 100 in South Ozone Park.
Braton was astounded to hear that it may be middle school after CB 10 had voted to make it an elementary school with the condition that it would exclusively serve the students in Centreville.
She said that the school, located between Albert Road and the South Conduit was designed in 2014 and presented as a pre Kindergarten through fifth grade school and was approved unanimously by CB 10.
Braton discussed the issue again with local elected officials and then went into Manhattan to hand deliver a letter from CB 10 that she described as “a very lengthy letter on why they support it as a primary school.”
The letter noted that “every single elementary school [student in Centreville] has to cross a major roadway to get to school and why we want it to be a primary school zoned strictly for Centreville,” and be named after Art Beroff, a former school board president, said Braton.
Detailing the school zone by streets, Braton said the children living in the area of south Liberty Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard and north of the Conduit from between the railroad tracks and Cross Bay Boulevard, “That would be a zone that would make sense for that school. At that time there were more than enough children, in the two census tracks under the age of five that could fill that school the day it opens,” she said.
Braton said that there is more current ACS data out there but when the school was designed there were 496 in that one census tract.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said, “There is a need for an elementary school, the community was sold the idea of it being an elementary school. The community accepted it.”
He doesn’t feel that it is fair to switch designs after the process had started. He noted that he, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway), and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) signed a letter calling for the plans for the school to be continued as an elementary school. “What faith can people have in government? They need to have the faith that their government does listen to them,” said Addabbo.
“Without any community input, you just don’t do that. I along with my other Ozone Park neighbors will live with the impact of that school,” said Addabbo.
Since sending the letter, Addabbo said the DOE only gave him verbal consent that they are reconsidering making it an elementary school again. “I won’t be satisfied until I see it in writing,” he added.
At the CB 10 meeting Braton noted that this school will relieve some of the overcrowding at PS 63, PS 146, and PS 108.
Several years ago the New York Racing Association was looking to sell property near Cohancy Street where there were unbuildable lots.
She said that NYRA asked if the state would have objections if they sold those lots. Local elected officials said there would be no objection, if they gave the School Construction Authority first pick over the properties. “The seats for education have been the number one priority here for 25 years,” said Braton.
“None of [the lots] were perfectly suitable [for a school], they picked the one they could do the best with,” said Braton.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin