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Gov. Pataki opens new Ozone Park school

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Gov. George Pataki was in Ozone Park last week, along with other local legislators, school board members and city officials, to open a new middle school in Community School District 27.

Pataki dedicated MS 137 at 109-15 98th St. as “America’s School of Heroes” to honor the victims of Sept. 11 and the everyday heroes, such as teachers and parents.

“You don’t have to be on TV to be a hero,” Pataki said. “You go about doing your job, helping to make your community, your school, your family a little stronger and, in your own way, you’re a hero.”

Construction of the 181,500-square-foot school began in June 2000 and came out $8 million under budget, Pataki said, for a total cost of $60 million. Pataki congratulated former Borough President Claire Shulman, Borough President Helen Marshal and District 27 Superintendent Matthew Bromme for helping to plan and create the school in the city’s most overcrowded borough for students.

The school, designed by the School Construction Authority, contains 43 classrooms, including science, art and computer labs, and currently holds 1,200 sixth- and seventh-grade students. That will increase next year when eighth-grade students enter the system, bringing the overall total to 1,675 students.

“To think this is a New York City public school is just great,” Marshall said. “We’ve had a setback with recent budget cuts, but Queens still managed to still get four new schools.”

Bromme said the school will improve the education teachers can offer their students in a less crowded environment.

“(This school) is going to help us deliver a good education in a more effective manner,” Bromme said. “It’s a fantastic feeling and (this school) is helping to alleviate overcrowding.”

Also in attendance were Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), state assembly members Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) and Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill), and School Board 27 President Steven Greenberg.

Pataki said the school facilities will improve the quality of education teachers will offer students, saying that both the state and city need more schools like MS 137.

“We’re proud of this school,” Pataki said. “We want to not only make sure (you children) have great schools, but also have great teachers.”

Some students in the Advanced Regents Program said the school’s facilities said the 557-seat auditorium and eight special education classrooms were a step up from their previous schools.

“It’s a nice school,” said sixth-grade student Rebecca Mohabir. “It’s a lot better than my old school.”

Principal Eileen Lew said the opening of the new school with modern facilities would directly benefit the students.

“This reflects our commitment to teaching, to learning and to our students,” she said. “We were extremely excited to have Gov. Pataki here.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had suggested a $348 million cut in the educational system’s expense budget, which provides funds for school construction, but state legislators and city council members were able to stop the proposed cuts.

“It’s not everyday when we get to open a brand new school,” Addabbo said. “We could use 17 or more like it, but this at least offers some new opportunities for our students.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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