With more than 1.1 million students heading back to public schools on opening day on Thursday, Sept. 5, the most excited pupils can be found along the Jackson Heights/Woodside border — where P.S. 398 opens its doors for the first time.
The $62 million state-of-the-art, five-story building features 476 seats for pre-K through fifth grade in Community School District 30, the second-most overcrowded school district in Queens.
Councilman Daniel Dromm, a former New York City public school teacher for more than 20 years at P.S. 199 in Sunnyside, became an advocate for class size reduction after teaching in one of the most overcrowded schools in the city, he said.
“They had to make space in closets, locker rooms, dressing rooms and elsewhere,” Dromm said. “Class size reduction will help teachers provide instructional class lessons and the city has never tried class size reduction. With 34 kids in a classroom, they can’t spend as much time with each child. The Department of Education doesn’t take into account new developments in the city and the influx of immigrants to the community, such as Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Astoria.”
The school is located at 69-01 34th Ave. along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, on what was once White Castle’s regional headquarters. A developer once planned to build an apartment complex at the location, but Dromm was able to get the School Construction Authority to step in and by the land for $6.3 million in 2015 in order to build the 65,000-square-foot school that includes a rooftop playground.
Elsewhere, P.S. 303 in Forest Hills will cut the ribbon on its $66 million addition that will allow the school, known as the Academy for Excellence Through the Arts, to add grades 4 and 5 to existing grades pre-K through 3. The new facility includes a two-story gym, science rooms, a reading library and special education rooms at 108-55 69th Ave.
Also in Forest Hills, there is a $52.4 million four-story addition set to open at P.S. 144, the Colonel Jeromus Remsen elementary school. The new construction added 26 new classrooms with a new entrance lobby and seats for 590 students.
P.S. 66, The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis school in Richmond Hill, which first opened its doors in 1893 at 85-11 102nd St., also opens its new addition with six new classrooms for 124 news seats with a cafeteria, exercise room and new office space for school administrators.
The School Construction Authority is also opening four new 3K for All centers across the borough including the District 27 Pre-K Center at 101-49 Woodhaven Blvd. in Ozone Park, the District 27 Pre-K Center at 100-02 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park, and the District 27 Pre-K Center at 160-06 Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach.