Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, her colleagues in government, and excited parents and school staff celebrated the announcement last week that P.S. 19 in Corona will receive a major expansion and finally get rid of the six Temporary Classroom Units, or TCUs, in its schoolyard.
"When my son was in kindergarten he was always upset about going to school,” said Rafaela Vivalo, the mother of a 2nd grader at P.S. 19. “He had to learn in a trailer and was always cold and wet during the winter. He did not want to go to school.”
The first trailer appeared in Roosevelt Avenue schoolyard in 1987 to house 500 students. In 1994, five smaller trailers were added to serve as seven kindergarten and three first-grade classrooms for an additional 250 students.
The recommended lifespan of the trailers is 10 to 15 years, at which point they begin to have issues with air conditioning and heating.
“Classroom trailers are like Band-Aids, you can make it pretty but it's always a temporary fix and should never be a permanent solution,” said Katz.
P.S. 19 is currently at 167 percent capacity with 2,002 students, even with 100 kindergarteners who were co-located to P.S. 211 in Elmhurst two years ago.
Despite this, students at P.S. 19 have made considerable progress on the statewide English and math test, according to the Department of Education's 2013-2014 School Quality Snapshot.
“Even with the severe overcrowding, P.S. 19 has been an 'A grade' school,” said State Senator Jose Peralta during a press conference in the schoolyard last week.
The design for P.S. 19's expansion should be complete by spring of 2016, with construction wrapped up by the 2018-2019 school year. In the meantime, 500 incoming students will be relocated to P.S 315 on 43rd Avenue and another 100 at P.S. 211 until construction is complete.
The expansion is part of the School Construction Authority's $13.5 billion 2015-2019 Capital Plan, of which $4.5 billion has been set aside for new schools. Over the next four years, the city will create approximately 33,000 seats for city students.