Rusty trailers to be removed from overcrowded Corona elementary school

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The largest elementary school in the city is getting much-needed room for students to grow and learn.

P.S. 19, located at 98-2 Roosevelt Ave. in Corona, is known for its overcrowded hallways and for students attending classes in trailers, also called Temporary Classroom Units. The school is the largest elementary school in the city by student enrollment and one of the most overcrowded in Queens.

For years, parents and local leaders have fought to remove the trailers, five of which were placed at the school in 1994 and a larger one that was placed on site in 1987, and bring their children back into the school.

On Friday, parents and city officials gathered in front one of the six trailers at the school to announce that the “decades-old, rusty” transportables would be removed and that a new addition is expected to be constructed for the Corona school.

The removal of the trailers and construction of the new building are funded through the Smart Schools Bond Act.

“For too long, P.S. 19 has been inadvertently punished for its own success. What’s remarkable about P.S. 19 is in spite of bursting at the seams from chronic capacity issues and trailers breaking down, the school’s learning environment remains strong and the school performs consistently well,” Borough President Melinda Katz said.

The five smaller trailers at P.S. 19 accommodate 250 students into seven kindergarten and three first-grade classrooms. The larger trailer fits 250 more students into 11 classrooms from grades one through five.

Problems faced in the trailers included frequent breaking down of heating and air conditioning.

“When my son was in kindergarten he was always upset about going to school,” said Rafaela Vivalo, a mother of a second-grader at the school. “He had to learn in a trailer and was always cold and wet during the winter — his feet never had time to dry, since they had to go inside and outside multiple times a day to the main building.”

In spring 2016 the design process for P.S. 19’s new building will be completed and by that summer all the trailers are expected to be removed. During the construction of the new building, 500 incoming students will be temporarily relocated to P.S. 315’s new building on 43rd Avenue, but will still be considered part of P.S. 19.

“It is unacceptable that some of our children are playing musical chairs in the schools within the bounds of the greatest city of the world,” state Senator Jose Peralta said. “I urge swift action on the welcomed addition and look forward to supporting P.S. 19 throughout the process.”

Construction is expected to be completed by the 2018-2019 school year and the relocated students will return to P.S. 19.

“We have worked long and hard to end overcrowding in Corona, and the expansion of P.S. 19 is a milestone in our progress,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, who attended the elementary school. “We’re giving our kids a quality space to learn and thrive.”