Today’s news:

Metro High opens doors to first class

As a group of school officials toured the newly opened Queens Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills last week, they voiced their approval for the extensive facilities, including Smart Boards in every classroom, in an institution expected to help alleviate the overcrowded classrooms that have plagued western Queens.

“This is an amazing place to grow into,” Queens Metropolitan HS Principal Marci Levy-Maguire said the day schools opened Sept. 8. “We have a beautiful auditorium, library, gym, cafeteria. There are science labs and music rooms. Our science facilities are incredible, and we’re the first school in the city to be built with Smart Boards in every classroom.”

A Smart Board is an interactive white board.

The high school is part of the $158 million Metropolitan Avenue Campus, which includes a 700-seat combined intermediate and high school and 200 special education seats. The high school at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. will eventually hold about 1,000 students, primarily from School Districts 24 and 28.

District 24 covers Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village and Corona. District 28 includes Forest Hills, Rego Park, Jamaica and Kew Gardens.

“I love this school,” Sharon Greenberger, the chief operating officer at the city Department of Education, said after touring Queens Metropolitan. “When I first came here when I was working at the [city] School Construction Authority, it was just a field, so it’s come a long way.”

City Councilwomen Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and state Assemblymen Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) have said the locally zoned Queens Metropolitan HS will help to decrease the class sizes throughout District 28, particularly at Forest Hills HS.

“The two new schools opening on the Metropolitan Avenue Campus are a wonderful addition to our community that has been a very long time coming,” Koslowitz said. “The project began the first time I served in the Council in the 1990s and will finally come to fruition this fall as students and teachers begin to fill the halls and classrooms. I look forward to a great relationship between the schools and the Forest Hills community.”

Forest Hills HS is now the most-crowded high school in the city, according to a recently released report by the city Independent Budget Office. The high school enrolled more than 3,600 students last year, but only had a capacity for a little more than 2,100, according to the report. Francis Lewis HS in Fresh Meadows was ranked as the city’s second most-overcrowded high school.

Even so, the report noted that the level of overcrowding in Queens schools has declined from 84 percent of schools in the 2004-05 academic year to 78 percent in 2008-09.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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