BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
About 150 parents lined the asphalt outside Louis Armstrong elementary school on Tuesday to join State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) in calling for a permanent addition to the severely overcrowded school.
According to Peralta, the school – PS 143 in Corona – operates at double the capacity the original building was constructed to hold. He said that about 700 are in extra classroom space, with around 250 more at an annex on 37th Avenue that neighbors PS 19, which is slated to see its own decades-old trailers replaced by a new permanent addition.
The campaign for an addition at PS 143 stretches back about two years. When Peralta originally proposed the idea, then-Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said that the Department of Education agrees that an addition is “one potential solution” to the school’s overcrowding, and noted that the property where it would sit – currently occupied by classroom trailers and a wide, rust-red “mini-building,” – is owned by the Parks Department.
Last April, Parks told Peralta it has been working with the School Construction Authority regarding the proposed addition, which would result in the loss of space at a neighboring playground.
Peralta, however, argues that PS 143 is unique in that it is surrounded by recreational space, including the playground and Hinton Park across the street.
“We are working with the Parks Department to explore ways to add capacity at this school,” DOE spokesperson Jason Fink said.
The Parks Department did not respond to questions or requests for comment as of press time.
Angelica Salgado, a parent of a first and third grader at PS 143, spoke about the detriments of classroom trailers. Besides stuffed classrooms and overburdened teachers, she noted that the young students travel between the outdoor trailers and main buildings even in rough winter weather.
“We need the extension, we need the building now,” she said, amid cheers of “a hora” from the crowd.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, email@example.com or @JNStrawbridge.