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PS 87 expansion not in the works

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Despite what parents said were assurances dating back to 2002, Middle Village’s PS 87 has again been skipped on the city Department of Education’s capital improvements list.

“PS/IS 87Q was the first school in the area to go K-8 in 2002,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) wrote in a June 1 letter to city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, “but unlike the other area schools that went K-8, this one is the only one not to receive a major extension.”

That extension would include a new gym, cafeteria and four classrooms, she said.

PS 87 had about 600 children enrolled during the last school year. It lacks a gymnasium and the current cafeteria can only hold 100 people. The second floor of the school has two toilets to service 240 students.

At a recent Community Education Council 24 meeting, one parent said her son refuses to use the bathroom during the entire school day because the facilities are so crowded.

“They keep telling us the school is not to capacity, but ... they’re counting closets as classrooms,” said Nicholas Dagnell, the school’s parent coordinator, noting that three other nearby schools have recently received major K-8 expansions that make them more attractive to parents with older children. “If you’re a parent, when you go to sixth grade, what school are you going to put them in? We’re going to lose the community, and that’s what these parents are worried about.”

“The years between pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, especially at junior high school-age, are some of the most impressionable on a student’s physical, emotional and academic development,” Crowley said in a statement after leading DOE officials on a tour Friday. “How can we encourage kids to exercise and use athletics as a positive outlet without a space for physical education? I believe the DOE’s visit to the school today demonstrates a step in the right direction.”

But that extension is not coming anytime soon. A DOE official speaking on condition of anonymity said the school is at 102 percent capacity, below what the city regards as overcrowded.

“Given that PS 87 is not overcrowded, and there is no school-age growth projected for the school’s neighborhood, we have no plans to build an addition for PS 87,” said DOE spokesman Will Havemann.

“Especially given the city’s difficult economic circumstances, it is essential that we prioritize school construction for the neighborhoods that need it most.”

Havemann did say the DOE would work with PS 87 and Crowley in the coming months to determine to address their concerns without any major construction.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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