Corona‘s P.S. 143 (the Louis Armstrong School) has been overcrowded for years — so much so that it uses six trailers, a mini-building and annex to accommodate a student population twice the capacity of the original school building.
Finally, some relief is in sight.
On March 16, state Senator Jose Peralta and the School Construction Authority (SCA) unveiled the design for the permanent annex at P.S. 143’s auditorium in front of more than one hundred parents. The new building, which is being built on land owned by the Parks Department, will be five stories and add 980 seats with science laboratories, art and music rooms and a cafeteria.
Located at 34-74 113th St., P.S. 143 was originally built to accommodate 900 students but that number swelled to 1,800. Temporary measures, like the trailers and annex, were used to alleviate some of the overcrowding, but parents wanted a permanent solution.
Peralta announced last January that the SCA and Department of Education (DOE) had agreed to build a permanent annex so that the 200 first-graders who use trailers for classrooms could finally learn in a ventilated building. Peralta first proposed the idea in March 2013.
“These so-called temporary classroom units, or trailers, have been here for decades,” Peralta said. “And just yesterday [March 15], students in these trailers faced frigid temperatures, making it difficult for them to learn.”
The new annex is slated to open in September 2020, and the trailers and mini-building will be removed.
“This brand-new, state-of-the-art addition builds on our continued collaboration with local leaders to address overcrowding in School District 24,” said Lorraine Grillo, president and CEO of SCA.“We are thrilled to construct a beautiful and modern learning environment for the P.S. 143 students to grow and thrive in and look forward to bringing these 980 new seats to Corona as fast as possible.”
According to Make the Road New York, an immigration advocacy group, School District 24 is one of the most overcrowded in the city. The district has a population of 620,034 and it needs 8,470 seats to accommodate the city’s growing population but DOE is slated to create only 4,045 seats.
“Like I said many times, no child should be educated in a trailer, and I hope once this project is completed, overcrowding at P.S. 143 will just be a chapter of its history,” Peralta said. “Almost 1,000 new seats to replace the mini building and the rundown trailers will help our students learn in the environment they deserve. It will give them a better opportunity to succeed.”