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More seats coming to Francis Lewis High School

Francis Lewis High School will soon benefit from 500 new seats, according to the School Construction Authority.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Patrick Donachie

More than 500 new seats are soon to be constructed at Francis Lewis High School in order to alleviate intensive overcrowding, according to the city’s School Construction Authority.

The new annex will include at least 18 new instructional spaces, according to the SCA. The annex will also include a culinary arts room, a science lab, a greenhouse, locker rooms and a new multi-purpose room for students to enjoy.

The school is currently operating at 199 percent capacity, according to the SCA’s 2015-2016 Blue Book Report, making it the city’s most overcrowded school. The school’s population is nearly 4,300 students, according to the site insideschools.org. City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) lauded construction that he said was a long time coming.

“Our community is delighted that Francis Lewis High School is finally getting desperately needed overcrowding relief,” Koo said. “Five hundred new seats to replace the aging trailers, a new space for extra-curricular activities and Queens’ first and only rooftop greenhouse will go a long way to helping the students and staff succeed.”

Francis Lewis High School currently has four transportable classroom units, or TCUs, which are trailers to house students when the school is over capacity. Deputy Schools Chancellor Elizabeth Rose said the move was a step forward on the broader commitment to removing TCU usage throughout the borough. The SCA is set to open 13 new capacity sites citywide in the upcoming school year, including new additions to existing buildings.

“Francis Lewis High School has always maintained a high level of academic excellence despite the overcrowding conditions,” Francis Lewis Principal David Marmor said. “This new annex will allow our school to have more programming flexibility along with providing our students with a 21st century learning environment.”

Class instruction will not be interrupted as construction occurs, according to the SCA. A SCA spokesman said there was not a committed time line for development as of yet.

A Department of Education analysis conducted during the 2014-2015 school year found that school districts in Queens were operating at 109 percent capacity, compared to a citywide average of 96 percent capacity. During a Queens Borough Board meeting in November, the SCA reported than 33 TCUs had been removed in Queens, with an additional 52 scheduled for removal. TCUs are slated for removal when the SCA is able to find ways that eliminate the units while maintaining the necessary seat count, according to the SCA.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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