Construction starts on new Sunnyside school

Photo courtesy Jimmy Van Bramer
By Rebecca Henely

In what is happily becoming a more common occurrence in the overcrowded school districts of western Queens, elected and school officials met in Sunnyside last week to break ground on a new kindergarten-to-fifth-grade school.

PS 313, which will be at 45-45 42nd St., will bring 432 seats to School District 24, the most overcrowded district in the entire city. It is expected to open in September 2014.

“This is a great day for Sunnyside,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

The new $44 million, five-story school will be made up of two halves facing 42nd and 43rd streets with an early childhood playground in the center, said architect Gavin Macrae-Gibson. The school will also include a cafeteria, a library, a dining room with a kitchen, a rooftop play area with a mesh enclosure for safety and a combination gym and auditorium room.

“It’s a full, state-of-the-art, K-through-5 facility,” Macrae-Gibson said.

He said the facade of the building will be brick and constructed to resemble the brick, multi-story residences that line 42nd and 43rd streets. A clock tower will be built on each side to distinguish it from its neighbors.

“The buildings here are very consistent street to street and this is a large, very important public building,” Macrae-Gibson said.

District 24 encompasses the neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Glendale, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Elmhurst and parts of Woodside and Corona.

Anthony Inzerillo, principal of PS 199, at 39-20 48th Ave. in Sunnyside, said he hopes the opening of PS 313 will alleviate some of the crowding at his school. While the main building is built for about 650 children, the school has 1,048 students enrolled, with many of them being taught in annexes and transportable units.

“I’d like to thank your public officials for really making a day like this happen,” Inzerillo said.

Bill Kregal, of Community Education Council 24, said getting the school a location and plans has been a five-year struggle.

“The primary goal was this, for the neighborhood children to have a neighborhood school and today we’re seeing that happen,” he said.

PS 313 is the fifth school set to be built in Van Bramer’s Council district, which encompasses Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and a small part of Maspeth. The others include IS/HS 404 in Hunters Point South, PS/IS 312 in Long Island City, an unnamed school in Woodside and an annex for PS 11.

“We still need more but we’ve done better than anywhere else in the city in the last few years,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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