Public school students in Queens are returning to class on Sept. 8, and for 785 children in Corona, they’ll be spending the school year at a brand-new building.
I.S. 311, a new, five-story building at 98-11 44th Ave., will serve sixth- through eighth-graders and students who previously attended the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy in Elmhurst. A pre-K program and two District 75 classrooms are also housed in the building.
School District 24 is notoriously one of the most crowded school districts in the city, with certain schools using trailers as makeshift classrooms for many years to teach the overflowing student population.
The School Construction Authority (SCA) started building I.S. 311 in August 2013 to respond to the district’s problems.
Outfitted with central air-conditioning, the handicapped-accessible building includes 23 standard classrooms, two District 75 classrooms to teach those that are on the autism spectrum, have significant cognitive delays, or are severely emotionally challenged, sensory impaired or multiply disabled.
Additional rooms will provide services such as occupational therapy, guidance counseling and speech.
Two art classrooms, two science classrooms and a music suite are located throughout the building. I.S. 311Q is also outfitted with a full kitchen and cafeteria, staff lunch room, teacher’s workroom, library, medical office, guidance suite, general offices and supervisory offices.
According to Ben Goodman, spokesperson for SCA, the architects focused on bringing a lot of natural light into the building – it is outfitted with large windows and the usual metal window grates seen on every floor of a city public school are relegated to windows in staircases.
Students will also get to exercise in the gymnasium, dance room, outdoor playground and a gymatorium – a hybrid auditorium and gymnasium.
Art adorns the main floor walls and most of it is made by local artists who showcase the diversity of the “World’s Borough.” In the cafeteria, the wall is made of a colorful mosaic that signifies the changing of the seasons. Last year’s outgoing eighth-graders came up with the design.
“Times have changed dramatically so this is a state-of-the-art building,” said Michael Mirisola, director of the office of external affairs for the SCA. “Fully air-conditioned, totally handicapped-accessible and we also incorporate the District 75 element into most of our new schools because we’re trying to bring those children into the mainstream.”
Mirisola said that art rooms, music rooms and medical suites are “standard” for new schools built by the SCA and that the agency thinks that “every child deserves [facilities like] this.”
School District 24, which encompasses Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village, is scheduled to receive new schools or additions to schools in 2017.
SCA estimates that School District 24 will need to add 7,250 seats to address classroom overflow.
The agency has planned to add more than 8,500 seats by the 2021-2022 school year, according to a report by the Independent Budget Office. But SCA estimates that an additional 4,400 seats will be needed by then to account for the influx of new students enrolling in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Mirisola said new additions can mean new cafeterias or additional exercise space.
P.S. 49, located at 63-60 80th St. in Middle Village will receive a new addition along with P.S. 125 in Woodside. P.S. 298 in Corona is a new elementary school that will be located at 50-51 98th Street.
“The idea is to get every kid in New York City to this place,” Mirisola said.