School construction officials detail capital needs in District 24
by Benjamin Fang
Dec 12, 2017 | 4930 views | 0 0 comments | 161 161 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Officials from the School Construction Authority (SCA) broke down the capital needs of overcrowded District 24 at a Community Education Council (CEC) meeting on Monday night.

Mike Mirisola, external affairs director, and Danielle Schaaff, project support manager, discussed the city agency’s proposed amendment to its five-year capital plan.

Due to spending increases in pre-kindergarten, new capacity, universal physical education initiatives and other programs, the SCA is proposing a $940 million increase, from $15.5 billion to nearly $16.5 billion.

The $16.5 billion in capital funding is broken down into capital investment, capacity projects and mandated programs. Capacity programs encompass building new additions, funding more pre-k seats and reducing class sizes.

According to Mirisola, the proposed $6.5 billion in capacity funding will create an additional 44,727 seats in 86 new buildings throughout the five boroughs. Eighty are elementary and middle schools, which carry the bulk of the new seats.

Within District 24 specifically, since Fiscal Year 2015, SCA has funded 4,701 new elementary and middle school seats. Additions to schools such as PS 143, PS/IS 128 and IS 125 are either open or expected to be complete in the next three years.

“We’ve been busy, that’s a lot of kids,” Mirisola said. “But we know we have more work to do.”

According to SCA officials, District 24 still needs 4,702 more seats to meet the neighborhoods’ growing needs. The highest need is in Corona, LeFrak City and Elmhurst, where officials estimate they need 2,088 new seats.

Maspeth and Woodside need 1,125 seat, followed by Middle Village with 1,013 and Glendale and Ridgewood with 476 seats.

“We hope next year we will have the funding in place to address this group,” he said.

SCA officials also discussed the additional pre-K seats that will be created in the district. Since 2015, SCA has opened 10 pre-K sites that hold 959 students. By September 2020, the agency plans to open four more, mainly based in Corona, that will add 432 additional seats.

Schaaff detailed other capital improvement projects that were planned for the five-year capital plan. Boiler conversions, exterior masonry, parapets and roof work made up a large chunk of the $93.93 million spent on 92 different projects.

Other capital improvements were made through “Resolution A” projects, which are upgrades funded by members of the City Council and the borough president. Technology upgrades dominated that category, making up 178 of 199 projects over five years.

Dmytro Fedkowskyj, co-president of CEC 24, said 20 schools in the district returned surveys about their capital needs. Some of the highest priorities include adding a new fire alarm, removing asbestos, fixing leaks, and creating more capacity in buildings.

Jo Ann Berger, a member of the CEC, asked why not many high schools were being built compared to elementary and middle schools. Mirisola responded that high schools are generally larger and require more space.

According to the capital plan amendment, six high school buildings are being built citywide, adding 3,940 more seats.

Mirisola added that SCA is beginning the process to design a new high school on Northern Boulevard at the site of the former Sports Authority. That will bring nearly 1,000 seats to the district, he said.

He encouraged parents and community members to spot potential sites to build even more schools in their neighborhoods. Generally, he said, SCA uses plots of land that are 20,000 square feet or more.

“If you see or know of a site that is appropriate for a school, let us know,” Mirisola said.
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