BY JON CRONIN
At a recent PS 144 Parent Teachers Association meeting, the School Construction Authority announced that the Forest Hills’ school will have a 330-seat extension built by 2019 to replace trailers recently erected in early September to house prekindergarten classes.
DOE spokesperson Jason Fink said, “This project is just entering the design phase. We estimate completion by September 2019 with a cost of $40-50 million.”
When asked if the extension will replace the trailers that were put in the PS 144 playground this past summer, Fink said, “Yes.”
At the beginning of September, Fink said the trailers would, “accommodate two pre-K sections totaling 36 seat,” and said it would be a “temporary solution” adding that trailers, are, “not a model for the city nor does it set a precedent.”
Michael Cohen, spokesperson for Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), said the extension will be built in the school’s current playground and the district will not have a problem filing the 330 seats.
“Our schools are growing and seats are increasingly scarce,” said Borough President Melinda Katz, and added, “Overcrowding and the inability of school districts to house zoned kids has become a foreseeable issue. Avoiding disruption to the school community as the school grows is important to each child’s whole experience. Fortunately at P.S. 144, the administration has committed to this longer-term solution. We look to continue such solutions at other overcrowded schools throughout the borough.”
In April, Katz, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) wrote a letter to Chancellor Carmen Fariña stressing that students are sent to pre-K programs and elementary schools within the district they live in, and to make sure the learning experience is uneffected by growing class size.
A Katz spokesperson said the advocacy was in response to “in particular the pre-K and Kindergarten seat shortages at P.S. 144Q and P.S. 196Q,” adding that it, “was to augment the efforts of parents, who had launched online petitions and more. Borough President Katz also visited both schools with DOE officials in June to help facilitate and expedite solutions.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin