City wants to build a HS in northeast Qns.

City wants to build a HS in northeast Qns.
City School Construction Authority spokeswoman Mary Leas says the city is looking for suggestions for where to build a high school in the Bayside or Auburndale area. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Anna Gustafson

City officials are looking for a site to build a high school in northeastern Queens, particularly in the Bayside and Auburndale area, a city School Construction Authority spokeswoman said last week.

“We would very much like to find a site in this part of Queens,” said Mary Leas, senior manager of external affairs for the SCA, at a Community District Education Council 26 meeting last Thursday. “Anybody who’d like to see a high school in this part of Queens, we’d like to hear your suggestions. It needs to be at least an acre.”

The CEC 26 meeting was held at JHS 67 at 51-60 Marathon Pkwy. in Little Neck.

Leas urged residents to send suggestions to the city about possible sites for a high school in the Bayside or Auburndale area. She noted city officials do not want to build a school “right on the Nassau [County] border” and said it probably cannot be the site of the former Leviton manufacturing plant.

The Leviton company, which made small electrical parts like light switches, moved from Little Neck to Long Island last year and residents have since been worried about what could replace it on the site, which is surrounded by hundreds of single-family homes.

“Leviton has been brought up, but it can’t be the Leviton site because it’s right on the border,” Leas said. “We’re looking for something that would be more accessible to public transportation.”

In addition to the high school, the city DOE has proposed building 416 seats in District 26 as part of its 2010-14 five year capital plan. District 26 , which includes Bayside, Bellerose, Douglaston, Little Neck, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Flushing and Queens Village, is the highest performing in the city. While city officials have increased the number of seats in other Queens districts since the five-year plan was first drafted, the number has remained the same in District 26 — a move criticized by CEC 26 President Rob Caloras.

“I have a problem with that,” Caloras said. “We have overcrowding in our schools.”

Caloras and a number of other officials in northeastern Queens, including state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), have said schools in the area have long been operating with classroom populations that exceeded capacity.

“Overcrowding is probably the No. 1 issue,” Weprin said. “The larger the class size, the worse the academic performance. I think it really starts with trying to have the class size smaller. There are all these classes now with well over 30 students.”

Leas defended the city, saying officials are “designing and building” schools “as fast as we can.”

She also said at last week’s meeting that the city plans to begin 20 capital improvement projects totaling $29.3 million between 2010 and 2012 in District 26, including electrical upgrades at PS 221 in Little Neck and PS 18 in Queens Village, a new elevator at PS 186 in Bellerose and a flooding mitigation project at Francis Lewis High School.

“This will definitely help with basement flooding,” Leas said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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