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PS 11 rallies for expansion

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (c.) urges the city School Construction Authority to build an addition to PS 11 at a press conference with students, administration, parents and other officials. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and members of the PS 11 family called upon the city School Construction Authority to make the expansion of the school a priority once again.

“This school is way over capacity,” Van Bramer said.

PS 11, at 54-25 Skillman Ave. in Woodside, was set for an addition in previous versions of Community District Education Council 30’s five-year capital plan, but the expansion was removed in the most recent capital plan, to the chagrin of PS 11 administrators, parents and CDEC 30 members.

CDEC 30 encompasses Astoria, Long Island City, East Elmhurst, most of Jackson Heights, a large section of Woodside and a part of Corona.

The SCA did not respond to requests for comment.

Like many schools in the district, PS 11 suffers from overcrowding and is currently at 117 percent capacity. While a 440-seat school is set to open at 57th Street and 39th Avenue, about four blocks away from PS 11 in 2015, advocates said the school needs help now.

“We really do need a solution that is creative and speedy as fast as possible,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of CDEC 30.

Anna Efkarpides, principal of PS 11, said 280 children in kindergarten through second-grade are taught in transportables, which are also referred to as trailers or modulars. She said the trailers have attracted mold and often need floor repairs, and the school has used them for 15 years, even though they were only meant to be in place for a maximum of 12 years.

“We need to remove the transportables,” Efkarpides said. “Their lifespan has expired.”

Michelle Lederman, who has two girls in the first-grade at PS 11, said the school has no art room or science lab and children eat lunch at times that are too early in the morning or too late in the day.

As a former teacher, Lederman also argued that the large kindergarten class sizes do not allow the children to move around, sit in circles and interact, which are important components of their education.

“Our school is so crowded,” Lederman said. “It’s busting at the seams.”

Van Bramer said both the transporters and the mini-school built nearby have not done enough to provide for the students. He said children learn better when class sizes are smaller and that while the new school is needed, it is not a substitute for an expansion.

“We’re not giving up until we break that ground and cut that ribbon,” Van Bramer said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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