Community Education Council 24 is asking for big improvements to schools in the southwestern Queens district by issuing a set of resolutions to build a new school at a proposed homeless shelter site in Glendale, and requests that all of the district’s schools comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Demand for the 78-16 Cooper Ave. site not only goes along with work from Councilman Robert Holden, but leaders from CEC 24 want the possible facility in review by the School Construction Authority to act as a release valve for overcrowding, according to the resolutions.
“I appreciate the CEC’s efforts in advocating for improved school safety, construction and funding,” Holden said. “School District 24 is overburdened and I have made it my mission to change that by fighting for locations such as 78-16 Cooper Ave. and by working closely with the SCA on multiple locations.”
CEC 24 is calling for the Cooper Avenue site to become a high school to help relieve overcrowding in the area as the district is one of the most congested in the city.
The city Department of Homeless Services began negotiations to create a shelter at the location this summer, months after it announced an earlier shelter plan was off the table. Holden intervened and said he would help the agency find a different location to house the homeless.
The councilman was first to suggest the Cooper Avenue site, recently cleared in an environmental study for asbestos, as a new public school site, and announced the DHS’ cooperation with his office in that shelter search at a September meeting.
While the 2018 city budget only included $150 million to increase ADA accessibility in schools, CEC 24 is calling for $850 million in the 2020-2025 capital plan to increase accessibility with only one in five schools being compliant with the law passed in 1990.
Citing a clause from the law itself, CEC 24 seemed to make the argument that the city was discriminating in not fully funding the effort to make every school compliant with the law, leaving to students to seek an education elsewhere and often sacrifice the quality of learning in the process.
“[Students] with physical disabilities find themselves cut off from the majority of DOE schools because of architectural barriers and are, instead, forced to travel significant distances and make academic and curricular compromises to attend schools they can physically access,” the resolution read.
Only $100 million was approved in the DOE 2015-2019 capital plan for the renovations to make schools ADA compliant while the effort to install an elevator at P.S. 9 in Maspeth was slated to cost up to $5 million, but has since been canceled.
P.S. 9, on 57th Avenue, is a school that serves mainly students with disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome.
One of the resolutions also calls for a rezoning in order to build Q398 at the location of 69-01 34th Ave. in Jackson Heights which could possibly serve around 475 students.