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Bayside leaders fear influx of new HS students

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Bayside leaders said they were disturbed to hear that the city Department of Education could dump hundreds of new students into Bayside High School, which they contend is already overcrowded.

Community Board 11’s Education Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss the matter and a spokesman for City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said the councilman was addressing the issue this week.

“It’s very discouraging,” said Jerry Iannece, CB 11’s chairman. “The school is already above capacity. The answer is to build more high schools to reduce overcrowding. They are going in the wrong direction. It’s not conducive to teaching or learning.”

Community leaders said they heard the DOE intended to add anywhere from hundreds to 1,000 students to the high school this fall.

The DOE could not be reached for comment or to verify whether Bayside High School’s population would be vastly increased.

Susan Seinfeld, district manager for CB 11, said the board had written to the DOE last fall to complain about the neighborhood’s overcrowded high schools, including Bayside, Benjamin N. Cardozo and Francis Lewis high schools.

“The halls are crowded,” Seinfeld said. “The kids can’t move around in the halls between classes. It can’t be safe.”

She said the school already has five trailers and that additional students at the site would require more trailers.

David Solano, the school’s Parent-Teacher Association president, said the school would also be forced to endure larger class sizes and school days with up to 10 periods. Students at the school currently sit through eight to nine periods, he said.

Bayside HS currently houses between 3,500 and 3,600 students. But its capacity is supposed to be around 2,100 students, Solano said.

“I think this is going to be the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “It seems to go against the grain for us to get our numbers back down to something reasonable. The mayor closed a bunch of schools and now he’s telling parents their kids can go to any school they want. We’re way over capacity.”

Michael Athy, the school’s principal, could not be reached for comment.

Halloran said the school is currently at 120 percent capacity, but that the DOE could push the school to 160 percent capacity.

“The city’s intention is to move forward with closing Jamaica and Flushing high schools,” he said. “Thousands of students have to go somewhere. So, unfortunately, the DOE is intending to add students to all our schools.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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