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Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
Councilman Holden addressed the overcrowding in School District 24 at his 'Conversations with your Councilman' meeting on May 2.

The City Council members who represent Queens’ most overcrowded school district have issued an official call to action for the community to help them locate properties to build new schools.

Councilmen Robert Holden and Francisco Moya released a joint statement on May 30 asking the public to submit possible locations where schools could be built or moved into existing structures within School District 24, which includes Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village, Corona, Glendale and Ridgewood. The statement cites a Council report from March that identified District 24 as the most overcrowded district in the borough, and the second most overcrowded district in the entire city.

“We’re calling on anyone with recommendations or knowledge of properties suitable for a school to report them to our offices,” Holden said. “To alleviate our overcrowded schools, we need to be creative in finding locations.”

The Council report shows that District 24 has a total of 4,702 seats that are “unfunded,” which is essentially the number of students that the district seats beyond its capacity. With a total of 9,403 students in the district, that means the district doesn’t have room for 50 percent of its students.

The study also points out that more than 2,000 of those unfunded seats are in the Corona area, which Moya covers in Council District 21.

“The numbers are clear and the situation is dire: Our schools are wildly overcrowded,” Moya said. “Every day the city fails to mitigate this problem is another day we fail our children.”

When Holden mentioned the report at his ‘Conversations with your Councilman‘ meeting at his Middle Village office in May, he said that sections of Ridgewood are actually losing students, further tilting the need for greater capacity in the northern part of the district.

In response, a member of the audience pointed out that with a number of Catholic schools closing in the area, the Department of Education should rent that space from the Diocese of Brooklyn to operate a public school.

“It can’t be done immediately because there are some people that are mourning actually losing their parochial school, so the city doesn’t like to walk right in and put a public school,” Holden responded. “That’s what I suggested actually … they’re willing to do that, but usually there’s a delay of a year or two, or more.”

Holden said that he has spoken to School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo who said the agency is prepared to build more schools if appropriate locations are identified.

The Council report also shows that there are six proposed school additions in the next four years that could potentially increase the capacity in District 24 by more than 3,500 seats.

Anyone with information about potential sites for schools is asked to call Holden’s office at 718-366-3900, call Moya’s office at 718-651-1917, or send an email to District30@council.nyc.gov.

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