However, Comaianni estimates that it will be three years before P.S. 290 is built to relieve overcrowding at P.S. 71 in Ridgewood and P.S. 153 in Maspeth. P.S. 873, which would occupy a mini building not currently in use by the junior high, is scheduled to open in September. The building would only require minor retrofitting for bathrooms for the kindergarten classes. It will accept approximately 60 incoming kindergarteners zoned for P.S. 71 and P.S. 153 in the first year.
“It’s not even mandatory,” he said. “When a kindergarten is capped and they can’t get into their zoned school, there’s a chance to get into this school versus another school that might be even further away.”
One bright spot is that P.S. 873 will have a Beacon Program kindergarten class, which is being reinstituted after District 24’s was taken away years ago. The Beacon kindergarten class will be capped at 25 students.
A complaint Comaianni has heard time and again is that 5-year olds should not be in school with 13-year olds. He pointed out, however, that it’s no different from the K-8 schools that are becoming increasingly prevalent in District 24.
He said that the lunch times and dismissal times will be staggered, and students will use the cafeteria, gym and school yard in separate intervals. He added that elementary school-aged children are contained to one classroom, and that the younger kids will be on a separate floor and in a separate building.
”They’re not going to be in the same lab class or history class,” said Comaianni. “They’re not going to interact.”
Some parents have expressed concern that if the plan to build P.S. 290 falls through, the children will spend their entire elementary school lives being bused for no reason. Comaianni has received assurance from the City that the money to build the school is there, and he has received no indication that City Council will vote against it next month.
“It’s a temporary solution to the overcrowding until we move them into the other school,” said Comaianni.
Once students from P.S. 873 move into the new building at P.S. 290, it remains to be seen what becomes of the 400-student mini building, he said.
After only learning of the P.S. 873 proposal in February and hearing that the school will likely open in September, some have expressed concern that the plan is moving too fast. Comaianni admitted that this concern perplexes him.
“This is finding room where there is room and utilizing it for that overflow of the overcrowding until you build something more permanent, which we are in P.S. 290,” said Comaianni. “If you’re looking for space for your kids and you’re looking for immediate relief, don’t you want it to move fast?”