By Nathan Duke
Mary Leas, project support manager for the authority, said the new 650-seat school will be constructed next to the current building during a two-year period with plans for full occupancy by September 2009. But it will take an additional year to tear down the current school building and construct a new playground in its place, she said. Funding is already in place for the school in the state budget, she said.The four-story school's ground level will sit on a 20,000-square-foot footprint in the 75,000-square-foot area where the current 15,000-square-foot school is located, Leas said. The remaining land will be used for play areas, she said. “It will have all the things a school should have but this one currently does not have,” she said.The current school houses 450 students.The new school will have new laboratories, music and art rooms, an auditorium and a full gymnasium, she said.The community board voted unanimously to approve the design plans and most residents and community leaders at the board's meeting praised the project.”Everybody has heard over the years about the overcrowding in our schools,” Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) said. “Our children deserve the absolute best, but we have not had it.”PS 128 currently hosts 650 students, but its existing capacity is for 328 students, Leas said. “Students of Middle Village need this new building because the current one does not have everything we need,” said Francesca Fedkowskyj, 8, a third grader at PS 128. “It will improve the community.”The new school building will feature a total of 95,000 square feet with classrooms as well a new gymnasium and a 3,500-square-foot cafeteria in the basement, Leas said.The design plan would still need to be approved by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council before construction can begin, said Kenrick Ou, manager of operations for the School Construction Authority.Leas said the deadline for submitting comments to the authority about the project is Feb. 19.Several residents said they were concerned about parking issues relating to the school and the site's lack of a playground during the project's three years of construction. But Leas said traffic would likely not be a problem because the school is locally zoned, so many students would be able to walk to school.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.