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Rich Hill HS trailers slated for removal: DOE

By Sarina Trangle

Richmond Hill High is slated to shake off the trailers languishing in its yard and make room for an outdoor athletic space, the city said.

Months after campuses facing co-locations and Richmond Hill parents filed a lawsuit against the city, the city Department of Education said it budgeted $8.9 million for getting pupils out of the more than 20 trailers in front of 89-30 114th St., school and other improvements.

Vishnu Mahadeo, a former Parent Teacher Association co-president, said crews will begin removing the currently unused trailers this spring. He said the DOE repurposed about seven spaces within the building that are now used as classrooms and created three new computer labs. Mahadeo said attendance seems to have picked up now that there is an alternative to the trailers.

“No one is currently using the trailers, no students, no teachers,” Mahadeo said. “Attendance has gone up from a meager, low 70 percent, to now we have 87 percent.”

An additional science lab is in the works. And the DOE said it will also be building an indoor fitness center, dance room and refurbishing the yard to include soccer and softball fields, 1.5 basketball courts and benches once trailers are removed.

Charles DiBenedetto, the school’s United Federation of Teachers chapter leader, said the sports space would provide pupils with a much-needed recreational outlet.

“They’re not just going to have gym every day, they can go out and play basketball, soccer … touch football,” he said. It’s nice to see the building is finally getting a makeover. It’s long overdue. We’re talking about a 100 year-old building.”

In March, Richmond Hill parents signed onto a lawsuit seeking to nullify dozens of co-locations.

Technically the DOE’s plans to move Richmond Hill freshman out of an annex and into the high school’s main campus to make room for a new district school in the annex did not constitute a co-location.

However, the Richmond Hill community considered such a move a co-location because it involved a traditional school handing over its space and resources to a new school.

The case was dismissed in May because the judge believed the plaintiffs did not exhaust potential alternative solutions, including waiting for the state Education Department to rule on a similar complaint.

Around that time, the DOE struck a deal with the school, allowing it to maintain part of the annex for another year and committing to remove the trailers by the 2016-17 academic year.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌al.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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