Today’s news:

Board of Ed holds hearing on S. Jamaica school site

The Office of Queens High Schools held a public hearing Tuesday night on the proposed development of a combination high school and Police Athletic League community center at Guy Brewer Boulevard and 116th Street in South Jamaica.

The meeting at Springfield Gardens High School, attended by 30 community residents, was the first public forum on the proposed school construction plan of an 800-seat high school.

Tami Rachelson, of the School Construction Authority, said the meeting was held to so the SCA could get neighborhood feedback and to see if the proposed site meets the requirements of the community.

The community members at the meeting voiced concern over how the problems of flooding and noise in the area would adversely affect the students' ability to learn and study.

According to Mashiyat Asraf, managing architect for the SCA, if the plan and feasibility study are approved, construction could be completed by September 2003.

"The Queens High School District is excited about having a school at the site and working with the Police Athletic League," said John Lee, superintendent for Queens high schools. "It will be an academic high school preparing kids for college, and it will explore career possibilities in law enforcement and public safety."

Lee said the high school would work with St. John's University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice to provide a curriculum for the school. He said his office was also hoping to get support from a police training center, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and various city law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The goal of the school would be to provide the beginning steps toward a career in law enforcement, said Lee.

According to the SCA and Rich Napolitano of the Police Athletic League, the high school and the PAL will be separate entities, but would share some recreational facilities, such as an auditorium and indoor track.

Rev. Charles Norris, executive secretary of the Southeast Queens Clergy for Community Empowerment, voiced his anger at the meeting being held at 5:30 p.m., which he contended was too early for community residents who work to attend.

Jack Thompson, president of the Cambria Heights Civic Association, said he was concerned about how the area's flooding problems and noise from a nearby train station would affect classes at the school.

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