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Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church is planning a $1.5 million expansion of its elementary school in Whitestone, and recently cleared a major hurdle in the process.
Community Board 7 voted almost unanimously, 35-1, on Monday to allow a variance for the planned expansion of the Efstathios & Stamatiki Valiotis Greek-American Day School, which sits on 12th Avenue and 150th Street.
The school currently enrolls pre-K to third grade, but administrators want to provide nursery to fifth grade education.
The building expansion proposal includes raising the ceiling on the school’s attic level to create a full second floor, as well as expanding the side of the building on 12th Avenue more toward the street. Also, the school’s parking lot will be rearranged more efficiently and about half a dozen new spots will be added.
The expansion will include much-needed classroom space and other amenities, including a computer lab. The Greek Orthodox community showed strong support during the vote, and parents and residents said it will benefit the neighborhood.
“It’s great for our families and it’s great for the community,” said Chris Koukounas, a parent of two students at the school.
“Right now we don’t have enough square-footage per child. There are fewer facilities, we don’t have a science and computer lab, the lunchroom is very packed, and it’s not a safe environment.”
The school’s enrollment for its Greek-American day school is about 180 students. The expansion will allow for 250 students.
For the board to agree with the proposal, its Land-Use Committee had stipulations to increase safety. Holy Cross has agreed to the conditions, which include putting a stop sign on the corner of 150th Street and 12th Avenue.
Councilman Paul Vallone is working with the Department of Transportation to have the stop sign added, and the legislator voiced his approval of the expansion.
The recommendation from the board, as well as a letter from Councilman Paul Vallone, will be sent to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which has final say on the expansion.