The city’s most overcrowded high school is finally getting a major upgrade.
Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows is getting 500 new seats and a number of state-of-the-art amenities, the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) announced on Feb. 21 The new fully accessible and air-conditioned building, which has yet to be designed, will create 500 more seats and include at least 18 new instructional spaces.
The state-of-the-art annex will also include new amenities, including a culinary arts room, a science lab, a greenhouse, locker rooms and a multi-purpose room.
The project is funded by the SCA’s Fiscal Year 2015-2019 Capital Plan. Instruction will not be interrupted during the annex construction process, the SCA said, and an estimated project timeline could not be provided at this time.
“When you have strong partnerships you find that creative solutions to tackling long standing challenges are easier to come by, and this project is a testament to that,” said SCA President & CEO Lorraine Grillo. “This new annex will provide much needed relief for the students and staff at Francis Lewis High School and while our search for new capacity to relieve overcrowding in Queens High Schools continues, we are taking a significant step.”
The school is currently operating at 199 percent utilization, making it the most overcrowded high school in New York City, according to a recent NYC Department of Education report. For the 2014-2015 school year, the school had a target capacity of 2,099 students and an enrollment of 4,172.
“Francis Lewis High School has always maintained a high level of academic excellence despite the overcrowding conditions,” said David Marmor, principal of the school. “This new annex will allow our school to have more programming flexibility along with providing our students with a 21st-century learning environment. I would like to thank the School Construction Authority for providing these new seats for our community.”
Councilman Peter Koo, who contributed funding toward the upgrades, spoke out about the impact of the new annex.
“Our community is delighted that Francis Lewis High School is finally getting desperately needed overcrowding relief,” Koo said. “Five hundred new seats to replace the aging trailers, a new space for extra-curricular activities and Queens’ first and only rooftop greenhouse will go a long way to helping the students and staff succeed.”
For the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, the SCA plans to open 13 new capacity sites, including additions to existing buildings and leases, as well as over 1,300 new universal pre-kindergarten seats.