Thursday, December 2, 2010

Additional Seats Unveiled in DOE's Five Year Capital Plan

Mary Leas discusses the SCA’s plans for District 24. CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni looks on.
By Eric Yun

In a district burdened with overcrowded schools, parents were eager to review the city Department of Education’s (DOE) five-year capital plan for the local area. Parents of District 24 were assured by Mary Leas from the School Construction Authority (SCA) that the DOE is doing what it can to expand seats at last Tuesday’s Community Education Council (CEC) 24 meeting.

“This district has the honor of being the most overcrowded district,” Leas said. In addition to overcrowding, there are many old buildings that must be maintained, issues that are addressed in the capital plan.

In the SCA’s Capacity Programs, which aims to build extensions or new schools, District 24 is slated to gain 7,000 seats over the next five years. Looking at rising enrollment data, the SCA is recommending an amendment to add an additional 2,794 seats to the plan.

There are two projects in District 24 that are planned but have no site or location secured yet: project four would add 939 seats in Elmhurst, and project five would add an additional 233 seats in Maspeth.

There are also several new building projects and extensions that have sites, and the SCA is moving forward with those plans. This includes P.S. 290 at the former Rite Aid site at 55-20 Metropolitan Avenue, the new high school in Maspeth at the former Restaurant Depot site and the highly publicized extension for Middle Village’s P.S. 87.

Besides new buildings and extensions, many schools in the district will receive beautification through the Capital Investment Program. These projects look to maintain schools to prevent water leaks or other structural damages.

Some parents, including CEC 24 board member Brian Rafferty, questioned if the large sum of money—approximately $20 million—that is being spent on these beautification programs could be directed elsewhere. However, Leas responded that these projects are a necessity to keep the building operational.

“These are not beautification projects,” Lease said, “but the schools are beautiful when the project is finished.”

The final portion of money included in the capital plan is Resolution A money. This is discretionary funding given to City Council Members that is distributed to their schools of choice. The funds are generally used to upgrade the school’s technology offerings.

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