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City touts plan to add grades at IS 73 in Maspeth

Parents and educators are wrestling with the city’s proposal to add a K-5 school at IS 73 in Maspeth to help alleviate overcrowding in the district’s elementary schools.

Starting in September, the city Department of Education plans to add the separate school in an annex building to the Frank Sansiervi School at 70-02 54th Ave.

Nick Comaianni, president of Community Education Council 24, was enthusiastic about the city’s plan, noting the campus is currently underused.

“We never refuse seats,” he said. “Wherever we can find space to alleviate overcrowding, we’ll definitely take it.”

CEC 24 is scheduled to have a public hearing at the school April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Comaianni urged residents to come and voice their opinions.

The annex building at IS 73 was 82 percent full with sixth-graders in the 2008-09 school year and its target capacity is 425, according to the DOE, which said enrollment at the school has declined over the last several years.

The new school is slated to open with between 50 and 75 kindergarten students for 2010-11 and fill out the classes in subsequent years as the original students progress. The final projected student population is between 270 and 350, the DOE said.

Teresa O’Donnell, parent coordinator for PS 229, asked Community Board 5’s Education Committee to investigate how feasible such a school would be and how it would affect neighborhoods currently zoned for existing schools.

“There’s no zone for this school for the first two years, so I don’t know where the children are coming from,” she said at a Community Board 5 meeting March 10. “They already have a name, they have a new principal for two kindergarten classes of 40 children. They have a new principal at over $100,000 a year, which in this economy, it just does not make any sense.”

The K-5 school plan would put an end to an ongoing debate about how to use the extra space in the school. Comaianni said past discussions included moving the sixth-grade classes of overcrowded schools in the area to IS 73, but parents at those schools objected.

But O’Donnell said PS 58, PS 153 and PS 229 had asked to put their sixth-grade classes in IS 73 in the past.

The new school may not stay at the IS 73 site forever. If the plan goes through, the DOE said it would continue to monitor enrollment trends in both schools.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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