By Anna Gustafson
City officials said at a Monday night Borough Board meeting that they are working to alleviate overcrowding at Queens schools by opening the Metropolitan Avenue campus in Forest Hills and a couple of elementary schools next year.
“We know there are significant problems with overcrowding,” said Debra Kurshan, senior director for portfolio planning in the city Department of Education.
Kurshan and Michael Nolan, director of portfolio planning and design in the DOE, presented information about plans for new schools in Queens to Borough President Helen Marshall, Director of Community Boards and Councilwoman-elect Karen Koslowitz and community board district managers Monday evening at Borough Hall.
Schools expected to open in 2010 include the Metropolitan Avenue Campus and elementary schools in Howard Beach and Jackson Heights.
Kurshan and Nolan said they believe the opening of three schools at the Metropolitan Campus in Forest Hills could help to pare down the population at Forest Hills High School, which Koslowitz noted is currently bursting at the seams with 4,000 students. The school was built to hold some 2,700 students.
The Metropolitan campus, at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave., will have about 2,000 new seats and cost the city around $158 million, according to the DOE. The site will include a locally zoned high school, a combined middle and high school and a special education program.
Glendale-based District 24 will also be served by the Metropolitan campus, Kurshan said. District 24 includes schools in Ridgewood, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Long Island City.
Maspeth High School, at 54-50 74th Ave., is slated to open in 2012 and Kurshan said education officials are looking to see if they could add classroom space at the underutilized IS 119 at 74-01 78th Ave. and the Elmhurst Educational Campus at 45-10 94th St.
City CouncilmanJohn Liu (D-Flushing), who was elected city comptroller,attended Monday’s meeting and expressed dismay with the DOE for not opening up more high school seats in Queens.
“You’ve got to go back to them and say we’re still waiting,” Liu told Kurshan and Nolan of top-level DOE administrators. “High school seats, that’s what we need. That’s what we’re short of here in Queens.”
In District 27, a new 380-seat elementary school, PS 273 at 88-01 102nd St. in Howard Beach, is set to open September 2010, Nolan reported.
District 27 includes schools in Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Far Rockaway, Jamaica, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.
Nolan added that city officials are reviewing space at IS 198 at 365 Beach 56th St. to see if they can add classroom space there. Only 41 percent of the IS 198 building currently is being used, Nolan said.
Space at JHS 157 at 63-55 102nd St. and JHS 8 at 108-35 167th St. in District 28 are also being reviewed to possibly hold extra seats. District 28 covers schools in Jamaica, South Ozone Park, Rego Park and Forest Hills.
PS 280, a 540-seat elementary school at 34-20 94th St. in Jackson Heights, is expected to open in September 2010, Nolan said.
“District 30 is where there’s some of the most severe overcrowding, so this is good news,” Nolan said of the new school.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.