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Officials choose site for St. Albans school

After speaking with Community Board 12 about a plan to put a new school in St. Albans, Christopher Cpersheff helps chairwoman Jacqueline Boyce with the microphone. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

The city Department of Education is hoping to take advantage of an opportunity to place a new primary school in St. Albans, but District 29 community members say what they really need is a new high school.

Christopher Cpersheff, a site manager with the city School Construction Authority, stopped by Community Board 12 last week to discuss the site for the proposed school, at 199-02 112th Ave., which would open in September 2015.

The building, owned by the Police Athletic League, was constructed in 1959 as the St. Pascal Baylon High School, and Cpersheff said that with minimal renovations, it could be converted into a 379-seat primary school, soaking up about half of the seats the DOE projected the district will need through 2014.

“It’s pretty rare ... to find a building that we can actually use like this and not have to completely gut it,” he said.

Community members, though, said the site would be better used as a high school.

Donna Clayton is the PTA president for the Pathways College Prep School in Holliswood, about six blocks away, which shares a building with IS 92. She said because the two schools are forced to use the same facilities, the high school students do not have a library and have to eat lunch at 9 a.m.

“Being in the space we are in now limits our potential,” she said. “We are not able to retain or attract the area’s best students, which is overcrowding other districts.”

Alicia Hyndman, president of Community Education Council 29, said there are three schools in Jamaica — PS 95, IS 238 and PS/IS 268, all within a few blocks of each other between Hillside and Jamaica avenues — that are overcrowded, and if anything a new elementary school should be built closer to them.

Cpersheff said, however, that in his role the only thing he could comment on was the appropriateness of the site, and that questions about the type of school that would go in there are under the purview of the DOE Division of Portfolio Planning. Community members became irate when Cpersheff told them the commenting period before the construction authority finalized the contract would end the day following the community board meeting.

CB 12 Land Use Committee Chairman James Heyliger met with Cpersheff earlier in the month and said he believed the city sent a representative from the SCA, as opposed to one from the city Department of Portfolio Planning, in a deliberate attempt to avoid a confrontation.

“I think he didn’t want to face the Education Committee,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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