LARGEST NYC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ON TRACK FOR RELIEF FROM CHRONIC OVERCROWDING

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Decades-Old Rusty School Trailers at P.S. 19 in Corona to be Removed
New Physical Addition to School Building Slated for Construction

QUEENS, NY – Parents, elected and city officials today together announced plans underway to permanently expand capacity that’s been long overdue at overcrowded P.S. 19Q in Corona, the largest elementary school in New York City.  The plans include removing all six school Temporary Classroom Units (also known as “TCUs”, “transportables” or “trailers”) at P.S. 19Q and temporarily relocating 500 of its students to a nearby newly-constructed building until the completed construction of a new physical addition to P.S. 19Q.

Despite the overcrowding it has endured, P.S. 19Q is an “A Grade” school, and meets or exceeds all of its student performance targets according to the New York City Department of Education (DOE) 2013-2014 School Quality Guide. In addition, P.S. 19Q students are rated as having made excellent year-to-year progress on the statewide English and Math tests, according to the DOE 2013-2014 School Quality Snapshot.

“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 Queens Borough President MELINDA KATZ.  “For too long, P.S. 19 has been inadvertently punished for its own success. What’s remarkable about P.S. 19 is in spite of bursting at the seams from chronic capacity issues and trailers breaking down, the school’s learning environment remains strong and the school performs consistently well. This is in no small part due to Principal Caliber’s tenacity, the teachers’ commitment, the parents’ engagement and the surrounding community’s high value for education.  But our families and our kids still deserve better resources.  Thanks to every single person standing here today who fought together tirelessly for so many years with many others, and of course Chancellor Fariña, we will once and for all get our kids out of these trailers and into real classroom buildings.”

The DOE and the New York City School Construction Authority have taken critical steps to combat overcrowding and improve existing school structures in the City. Of the School Construction Authority’s $13.5 billion 2015-2019 Capital Plan, $4.5 billion has been set aside for new school construction, which will include the new physical addition for P.S. 19Q.  The Capital Plan will create around 33,000 seats to address overcrowding and enrollment growth, and also takes significant steps to address pre-K need and invest in school infrastructure to enhance educational opportunities for our children.

“We are committed to the important work of reducing overcrowding and improving our school facilities across the City,” said Schools Chancellor CARMEN FARIÑA. “We are working tirelessly to provide the high-quality facilities that help our students thrive in and out of the classroom. I thank Borough President Katz and our community partners for their support in this important work.”

P.S. 19Q is currently at 167 percent capacity with 2,002 students, 500 of whom include kindergarteners and first-graders taught in the exterior school trailers, and an additional 100 kindergarteners who were co-located two years ago with P.S. 211Q in Elmhurst. The six trailers were always intended to be a temporary fix to a school long over-capacity, yet have remained in use for decades with no plans for a permanent solution until now.

“The SCA is investing in the future of our schools, our students, and our City,” said LORRAINE GRILLO, President/CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority. “I look forward to working with school leaders, school communities, and stakeholders to build and improve school facilities that help our children learn.”

P.S. 19Q is the largest elementary school in New York City by student enrollment and one of the most overcrowded in Queens, according to the DOE 2013-2014 Enrollment, Capacity & Utilization Report. P.S. 19Q is in School District 24, one of the most overcrowded school districts in New York City.

P.S. 19Q has five smaller trailers that were placed on the school campus in 1994, accommodating 250 students into seven kindergarten and three first-grade “classrooms”.  One larger trailer was placed on-site in 1987 to accommodate an additional 250 students into eleven classrooms ranging from grades one through five.  The rusty trailers break down with frequent heating and A/C malfunctions because they are well beyond their normal lifespans of 10-15 years.

“I am proud to have fought with my colleagues on the state level for the necessary funding for capital additions and the removal of overcrowded trailers in New York City schools, particularly at P.S. 19Q,” said State Senator JOSE PERALTA. “It is unacceptable that some of our children are playing musical chairs in the schools within the bounds of the greatest city of the world. I urge swift action on the welcomed addition and look forward to supporting P.S. 19Q throughout the process.”

“A school should be a place for children to grow, learn, and succeed,” said State Assemblymember MICHAEL DENDEKKER. “Every student in New York deserves an equal opportunity to thrive, and that opportunity begins with a proper classroom inside of a school building. The proposed new addition at P.S. 19Q is a step in the right direction. The sooner we can get our children into a real learning environment, the better it will be for teachers, parents, and students.”

“After fighting for years to get rid of the trailers at P.S. 19Q, we are finally able to declare that the students of Corona will get the classrooms they truly deserve,” said Assemblymember FRANCISCO MOYA, a former P.S. 19Q student and longtime advocate for the removal of classroom trailers at P.S. 19Q. “Kids belong in classrooms, not trailers. For too long, the rusting, thin-walled trailers at P.S. 19Q have stood as an ugly reminder of the educational inequality that plagues our school system. All students, regardless of what zip code they live in, deserve a world-class education, not classrooms fit for the junkyard. At the beginning of this school year, I joined with teachers, parents, and colleagues to call for the removal of classroom trailers at P.S. 19Q. Unfortunately, that was far from the first time we’ve addressed this issue. Overcrowding was a problem at P.S.19Q even when I attended the school as a young child. Today, we can finally say that we have set a plan in motion that will provide our students with the classrooms they need to succeed.”

“We have worked long and hard to end overcrowding in Corona, and the expansion of P.S. 19Q is a milestone in our progress,” said City Councilmember JULISSA FERRERAS, a former P.S. 19Q student. “We’re giving our kids a quality space to learn and thrive. I am thankful to the parents, teachers and Borough President Katz who persisted so we could see P.S. 19Q trailer-free and give our children the education they deserve.”

Below is the project timeline of the plan to replace trailers at P.S. 19Q:

Spring 2016  — Design Process complete for P.S. 19Q’s new physical addition, which will expand the school to meet capacity needs.

Summer 2016 — P.S. 19Q’s six trailers removed

School Year 2016-2018 —  During construction of P.S. 19Q’s new physical addition, 500 incoming P.S. 19Q students temporarily located to nearby P.S. 315Q’s newly-constructed building on 43rd Avenue. The students will still be a part of P.S. 19Q.

School Year 2018-2019 — Construction complete for P.S. 19Q’s new physical addition. Temporarily relocated students (500 at P.S. 315Q and 100 at P.S. 211Q) resume school at P.S. 19Q.

“I am so appreciative to all the stakeholders of the community who are responsible for this amazing addition to P.S. 19Q,” said MADELENE CHAN, Superintendent of Community School District 24. “I am confident that the instructional prowess the school is known for will only get stronger as their environment is enhanced.”

“We’ve been trying to get an extension to the school building for years to alleviate the overcrowding,” said NICK COMAIANNI, President of the Community Education Council for District 24.  “We’ve known about the population surge in Corona, and P.S. 19Q has been fighting for this extension for a very long time. The trailers were always intended to be temporary, meant to last maybe ten years, and now they’ve been there for nearly three times as long.  So with the help of our current elected officials, Chancellor Fariña actually came in herself, and we went through the fine points with her about what the school needed, what the problems were. Eleven years and four different chancellors later, we’re finally getting an extension to the building.  It never should be such a long fight for parents to see relief, but it is absolutely wonderful that this generation of parents will actually see it.”

“Esto ha sido una larga lucha,” said VICTOR TORRES, President of the P.S. 19Q Parents Association.  “Muchos niños están marcados de por vida con el asma debido a los hongos en los remolques porque a veces los remolques no tienen calentador en el invierno ni aire acondicionado en el verano. Los remolques se dañan dos veces por semana. No hay ningún guardia de seguridad afuera donde estan los trailers como en la entrada principal del edificio de la escuela. Los niños tienen que salir en la lluvia y la nieve para ir a la cafeteria, gimnasio, auditorio, biblioteca. Como padres es una buena noticia que vamos a sacar los niños de los trailers para que asistan classes en un edificio de verdad de escuela. Aunque haya barreras de lenguaje los padres de P.S. 19Q estamos muy implicados y extremadamente comprometidos a nuestra escuela, la educacion de nuestros hijos y su exito.  Finalmente nuestras suplicas han sido escuchadas debajo de esta nueva administración. Por fin hay una accion para aliviar la sobre populacion de niños para que nuestra gran escuela sea hasta mejor.  Esto nos indica  que cuando los padres participan y estan bien invulucrados  la cuidad escucha. Si se puede!”

“I am overjoyed to hear about this addition and the fact that our children will not have to suffer any more in the trailers,” said MARIA QUIROZ, former President of the P.S. 19Q Parents Association from 2007-2014. “My six children went to P.S. 19Q and my desire was that P.S. 19Q have an addition and I thought I would have to wait until my senior years to see it a reality.  Even though my children are no longer at P.S. 19Q I am glad that the PTA’s fight for our kids since 2007 was worth it.  I would like to thank everyone who played a role in getting an addition for P.S. 19Q.”

“When my son was in kindergarten he was always upset about going to school,” said RAFAELA VIVALO, a mother of a 2nd grader at P.S. 19Q and a member of Make the Road New York.  “He had to learn in a trailer and was always cold and wet during the winter – his feet never had time to dry, since they had to go inside and outside multiple times a day to the main building. He did not want to go to school. This is just one problem that students face in these kinds of trailers that affects their learning. I am so happy that today we are announcing that these trailers will soon be gone, and that future students at P.S. 19Q will learn in a permanent building, with the space that they deserve.”

“We owe it to our children to provide them with a learning environment where they can thrive and be successful,” added Rep. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D-Queens, the Bronx) in a statement. “For too long, students at P.S. 19Q in Corona have unfairly had to shoulder the burden of school overcrowding. Plans to remove the school’s trailers along with the building’s subsequent expansion are welcome news for the families of this community and I thank all our elected officials, the School Construction Authority, and community advocates who worked so diligently to do right by our children.”

“I am delighted that the DOE is beginning to accelerate the process to remove these trailers from our city schools,” added State Assembly Education Committee Chair CATHERINE NOLAN in a statement. “I am so happy that our Assembly majority led the way on funding to remove trailers.  The support and leadership of our Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblymen Michael Den Dekker and Francisco Moya and the entire Queens delegation was crucial to seeing this finally happen.”

“I have also been working closely with the School Construction Authority (SCA) to remove trailers citywide,” added City Council Education Committee Chair DANIEL DROMM in a statement. “In hearing after hearing, I described the conditions our children have to endure in these trailers including having walls so warped and thin that they couldn’t attach toilet paper racks.  In visits to P.S. 19Q over the years, I observed first-hand broken heating and cooling systems, poor air quality and overcrowded conditions. This sent the wrong message to students that they don’t matter.  Finally, this will be fixed. I am most grateful to the Borough President Melinda Katz and SCA President Lorraine Grillo for their hard work. I applaud the state legislature and voters for passing the Safe Schools Bond Act which will help to fund the trailer removal.”

“Trailers, like the ones at P.S. 19Q, have been a blight on our school system for more than a generation,” added MICHAEL MULGREW, President of the United Federation of Teachers in a statement.  “Teachers and school staff have worked hard to make the best out of a bad situation – at P.S. 19Q they do amazing work – but our students deserve more from us. I want to thank Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and our Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, for making it a priority to get our children out of trailers and into real classrooms. With their help, these so-called ‘temporary’ trailers will be a thing of the past and our children will spend their school days in buildings designed to help children succeed, not in aging trailers more than 20 years old.”

“The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators was thrilled to learn that the students of P.S. 19Q in Queens will soon see the last of the trailers that have served as classrooms for years,” added MARK CANNIZZARO, Executive Vice President of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators in a statement.  “A new wing will be built, and we look forward to the ribbon-cutting when the state-of-the-art facility opens for our deserving children. We thank the DOE, the School Construction Authority, city officials and all those who collaborated to get this done.”

“It brings me great joy to see that the trailers are finally coming down after more than two decades of fighting for a better start for our children here,” added CAROL ZHUMI, Vice President of P.S. 19Q’s Parents Association in a statement. “As a parent of a child who is currently in the trailer, it brings me joy on a more personal level. My children have had to endure the cold of the winter, the wetness of the rain, the lack of security, and having to study in decrepit classrooms. I am so proud to see that our school, along with the help of our supporters and officials, has made such an impact and made a change that so many though would never come. Our children deserve better, and their time is now.”

Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or www.facebook.com/queensbpkatz

 
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