P.S. 66 in Queens currently provides a 21st century education in a 19th century building, but all that is about to change.
The Richmond Hill school, located at 85-11 102nd St. and named after former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, suffers from a lack of modern facilities. There are only two bathrooms in the school to accommodate its 600 students and teachers, it has an outdated kitchen and cafeteria, and a small gym/auditorium space.
“It took only one visit from Councilman Eric Ulrich and Lorraine Grillo, president of the School Construction Authority (SCA), to understand our needs,” said Phyllis Leinwand, principal at P.S. 66. “Together they moved forward with plans to make our dream for an expansion a reality. Their joint commitment, perseverance and dedication to our school community are greatly appreciated.”
During a ceremony held at the school on Tuesday morning, the SCA and Ulrich announced that the students and faculty at P.S. 66 will get their much-needed expansion, which will add classrooms for additional students, an upgraded cafeteria and kitchen, more bathrooms and handicap accessible features to the elementary school.
Ulrich took over representing the school in 2013 when his district was remapped to include Richmond Hill. After visiting the school, he knew something had to be done.
“It will accommodate an additional 120-plus students, which is great [because] we can get rid of the trailers,” Ulrich said of the expansion. “There are six new classrooms, there will be a gymnasium, there will be two offices and yes, of course, there will be plenty of new bathrooms.”
The school was built back in the 1890s and has stood until this day. P.S. 66 was granted landmark status in June 2011 due to its history and important place in the community, teaching generations of kids for 118 years.
“It is my goal for future generations of children in this part of Richmond Hill, that they continue to honor and respect the historic status of the building while enjoying the well-deserved luxuries of our new expansion,” Leinwand said.
The expansion must go through the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for approval to build the expansion, but the application has been filed. Once that moves forward, the money for the project is already in the City’s budget and it will be put out to bid.
Ulrich expects construction to begin in the next year to year and a half.