After months of rallies and petitions by parents, a new middle school will be constructed in Sunnyside to address the lack of seats in School District 30.
The School Construction Authority (SCA) has purchased a building at 38-04 48th St. in Sunnyside, according to a spokesperson. The agency was able to reach an agreement with the owner to purchase the property, which was previously Paradise Cafe Billiards, after the SCA determined that School District 30 was in great need of a middle school, he said.
The school is still in the early design phase so the spokesperson could not say how many students it will serve.
Deborah and Sean McGowan, two parents who founded Sunnyside Woodside Middle School Project, have been hosting rallies and writing petitions since January 2014 to bring attention to the impending school overcrowding crisis in the two neighborhoods.
“We are very happy and appreciative that the School Construction Authority listened to us and to our elected officials and is building a school,” McGowan said. “The area is large enough and the building has been an eyesore for decades. This solution therefore solves a few problems.”
Currently, students in the area attend I.S. 125 in Woodside, which serves 1,733 fifth- through eighth-grade students in its main building and mini-building Q825.
The school has the capacity to serve 1,695 students and is currently 102 percent over capacity, according to the Department of Education (DOE). To alleviate the overcrowding, the DOE will expand P.S. 199 to absorb the fifth-grade students at the Woodside middle school.
The DOE has also made plans to remove Q825 and build an addition to I.S. 125 that will serve 655 students. It is scheduled to be completed in the 2017-2018 school year. This addition, along with new elementary school P.S. 343 in Sunnyside and P.S. 361 in Woodside, should reduce I.S. 125’s capacity to around 78 percent.
The McGowan family did not think this was enough so they reached out to the DOE and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to pitch a location at a lot on 37th Avenue and 48th Street, near a National Wholesale Liquidators and Toys R Us store.
Though the city ultimately decided against the location, Sean McGowan said he is happy that the city listened to his and other parents’ concerns.
McGowan did say that residents are concerned about the lack of parking and traffic that a new school will bring to the area but he hopes that the SCA takes this issues into consideration when designing the new school. He also added that the community should have a say in the planning process.
Sunnyside Post first reported the story.