At a new high school community input meeting on Tuesday, the Office of Portfolio Planning proposed opening the high school in fall of 2011, though the actual building would not open until 2012. A freshman class of about 250 would be incubated in Queens Metropolitan High School, which critics have complained will be underutilized in its first few years of operation, so that the Maspeth high school would be at about 50 percent capacity when the building opens the following year. Many of the parents at the meeting received the idea positively.
JoAnn Berger, a Maspeth parent, pointed out that D24 is the most overcrowded district in the city, yet some buildings are below capacity and some are filled to 130 percent capacity.
“I’m all for incubation,” she said. “The utilization for this particular Metropolitan Avenue building and the needs of the community finally match up.”
The Maspeth school will give priority to D24 students, another victory for local parents. Angela O’Hehir and Tricia Puleo, former P.S. 58 PTA president and vice president, respectively, who were among the first to recommend the former Restaurant Depot site for a high school, both have children going into the eighth grade. They hope that the decision to incubate will be made by the time their children start the high school application process in November.
“If they do this early enough and put the name of the high school on the high school form, it would probably eliminate a lot of problems,” said Puleo, pointing out that parents looking to send their kids to Queens Metropolitan High School went through a similar uncertain situation.
A survey was distributed asking the public for its opinion on what should be theducational priorities in the development of the new school. Though there is no official deadline for the survey, Portfolio hopes to have all the surveys in August.
“The goal is to have a community conversation about what kind of school they want to see in the new building in Maspeth," said Fighetti. "We want to keep the dialogue going as we work through the summer and fall to identify the right school leader.”
Portfolio is accepting Letters Of Intent from potential school leaders through July 30. Gabriela Fighetti of Portfolio pointed out, however, that even if the Panel for Education Policy gives its approval, the plan still needs to go through a public process that will allow the community to voice its concerns.
"We fought for the school and we hope to get our children in," said O'Hehir, "but unfortunately we won’t make it into the cutoff unless they put in the pilot program. We just want our kids in a neighborhood school, in the neighborhood we live in."