Pre-construction work began on the future site of P.S. 388 in Bay Terrace, which has continued to draw divided opinions from local residents since it was proposed in 2021.
The currently vacant lot on Waters Edge Drive and 24th Street is surrounded by apartment buildings and is adjacent to the waterfront Cross Island Parkway. Once construction is completed, it is expected to add 572 primary school seats to school district 25.
A representative from the School Construction Authority informed local residents that current “early package work” to prepare the site for the construction of the new school is underway and will be completed in March 2024. Until then, most construction will take place between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays if weather permits.
“Although this work will inevitably cause noise, the SCA will strive to minimize the disruptions to you and your neighbors,” wrote External Affairs Manager Benjamin Goodman in a letter from Aug. 15, 2023.
While the school was one of the dozens of new sites in the borough announced in an effort to alleviate overcrowding, Community Board 7 cast a vote against it in a meeting over two years ago. Members expressed that it is a poor location, citing increased traffic in the area and proximity to the water. Just this week, similar concerns were raised by local residents on social media.
Some local residents took to Facebook to share a range of thoughts on the future school. While one resident called it “unneeded” and pointed out that it could potentially bring “lots of traffic and noise” to a narrow street, others chimed in to point out that nearby schools are overcrowded.
“Unneeded!? There’s no more room in the schools here and where do you think the migrant kids are going? Also rezoning from 1 family to 2+ family and illegal basements isn’t helping,” wrote one member of the Bayside, Queens Facebook group.
In 2019, school District 25 which includes Flushing and Whitestone, ranked second in their utilization rate at 120 percent with 80 percent of schools being overcrowded. Neighboring District 26, which includes schools in Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck had a utilization rate of 117%, with 72% of schools being overcrowded.
When enrollment exceeds capacity, schools are considered overcrowded. The utilization rate is determined by how many students fill available seats. Few elementary schools in Queens were considered under crowded, with over 300 seats available, as of Aug. 1, 2023.
“One of the worst possible places they could possibly find,” wrote a Bayside mother.
Several commenters added that the narrow street and lack of parking in the area will create congestion once the school is up and running – especially during student drop offs and pickups.
“This is a horrible location as the street is very narrow. With buses and parents picking up it will be a disaster,” wrote another member of the Bayside, Queens Facebook group, which has over 10,000 members.