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PS 277 breaks ground

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Borough legislators broke ground on a school in Hillside last week that officials said should help to alleviate overcrowding in one of the fastest-growing school districts in the city.

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), state Senate President Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) joined city Department of Education officials and area residents Friday for the event, which celebrated the construction of PS 277.

The $47 million school, which will house up to 665 students in kindergarten through eighth-grade, is slated to open in July 2012.

“One of the biggest problems we have in Queens is overcrowdi­ng,” Lancman said. “The only way to get to the heart of that problem is to build more schools.”

The four-floor school, at 153-27 88th Ave. in School District 28, will have 21 general education classrooms as well as specialized instruction rooms for science, music, art and gym. There will be an assembly space, a library, a cafeteria, two playgrounds and administrative space.

While the city has not yet determined if the school will be locally zoned — meaning nearby students would get priority when looking to go to the school, officials said they believe the institution will help to reduce classroom sizes, such as in the heavily populated PS 82.

“We are certainly overcrowded,” said Yvonne Reddick, district manager for Community Board 12. “We are one of the fastest growing districts population-wise and we’re looking forward for the building to be completed.”

Smith also praised the incoming building.

“I applaud the New York City Department of Education for rising to the challenge of providing a greater educational opportunity to the children of our community by building a new state-of-the-art educational facility in my district,” Smith said. “Education is the new civil rights issue of this new century. It is imperative that students have the best resources possible to get the best education that this city has to offer.”

Gennaro said he was especially pleased PS 277 will be an environmentally friendly building.

“It’s great it’s going to be a green building,” Gennaro said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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