Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced the allocation of $10.785 million in capital funding to schools across Queens Tuesday at P.S. 62, The Chester Park Magnet School for Computer Science and Innovation. According to Richards, 56 schools across the borough will be receiving a portion of this funding.
“Recent learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need to intensify efforts to improve the quality of the education we are offering our precious children,” Borough President Richards said. “Those efforts must begin with improving our school buildings and their surrounding campuses, so that all of our kids have quality spaces where they can learn, grow and thrive. The nearly $11 million in capital funding I have allocated to Queens schools this year will do just that.”
Richards was joined by superintendents for schools across the borough as well as leaders from P.S. 62. Since taking office in December 2020, Richards has now devoted a total of $22.3 million in capital funding to schools in Queens.
P.S. 62 will be receiving $175,000 from that capital funding. It will go toward constructing a new hydroponics lab. This will help the school expand its STEM curriculum while also helping to combat food insecurity among students as well as the rest of the community. Additionally, this allocation helps to fulfill the commitment Richards made during his 2022 State of the Borough address to fund more hydroponics labs in schools across the borough. Hydroponics labs allow plants to grow without soil and help students like those at P.S. 62 learn valuable lessons about bioscience and horticulture.
“I said in my State of the Borough address that we were going to build more and more hydroponic labs in Queens schools,” Borough President Richards said. “That’s what we’re doing. Including P.S. 62, we’re allocating a total of nearly $1.5 million across eight schools for hydroponic labs this fiscal year.”
P.S. 62 Principal Jordan Vitta emphasized how the expansion of the school’s hydroponics lab will have a positive impact not just on the students, but on the whole community. With more space and resources that will soon become available, Vitta said this will allow for more food to be grown from the hydroponics lab, with the food being donated to members of the community struggling to afford to purchase their own food.
“With this allocation, our plan is to expand on our best practices that we’re doing right now,” Vitta said. “We plan on expanding [the hydroponics lab] into a larger classroom setting, where we can create more produce. Our students will be engaged in science. They will be engaged in laboratory experiments and at the same time they will be learning healthy eating habits for their future. Additionally, our plan is, on a larger scale, donating everything that is produced within our hydroponics lab to the local community and making our students productive and good citizens.”
P.S. 62 Superintendent David Norment spoke on behalf of the rest of the Queens superintendents who gathered at the school for the announcement. He expressed gratitude to Borough President Richards for continuing to financially support schools in Queens.
“We are about innovation and this is a step in the right direction,” Superintendent Norment said. “I know that Principal Vitta and his team is going to do wonderful things with this funding.”
Richards also went over other schools that will benefit from the capital funding in other ways. Bayside High School’s science education department will benefit immensely from $500,000 devoted to its greenhouse. Ten schools will be splitting $1.9 million for improving their science labs and acquiring new science technology. Meanwhile, $2.3 million will be allocated to technology like computers and iPads to schools across the borough.
“At the end of the day, I’m a father,” Borough President Richards said. “I want my son to have the best education he can possibly have. As borough president, I believe all our kids deserve the same education.”
While no precise date has been set yet, Borough President Richards said he believes the expansion work at P.S. 62 should be completed before the beginning of the next school year.