Cambria academy stays put in Hollis

The city Department of Education announces it will extend the lease for the Cambria Heights Academy at a building owned by St. Gerard Church in Hollis. Photo by Nykeema Williams
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The city has nixed a plan to move a successful new Hollis high school into a space community members said would have been a poor fit.

When the Cambria Heights Academy opened in Hollis in 2010, it was a popular choice for students in southeast Queens attracted to the school’s focus on integrating technology — every student is given a laptop — and small class sizes.

The city Department of Education placed the school in a building it leased from St. Gerard’s Church, at 188-04 91st Ave.

The same year, the DOE placed the Eagle Academy for Young Men in a building shared with IS 59 in Springfield Gardens.

The department found the arrangement lacking for the growing Eagle Academy and made plans to move the school when Jamaica’s Allen Christian School on Merrick Boulevard announced earlier this year it would be closing due to financial difficulties.

That was when the DOE announced its intention to move the Cambria Heights Academy from its home in Hollis, which the department said from the beginning was a temporary site, in with IS 59, drawing the ire of the community.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said he has been involved with the Cambria Heights PTA since the DOE first suggested the move and has discussed their concerns with city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

“The parents expressed their reasons why they should not be located in [IS 59]: the uniqueness of the school, the camaraderie of the school and the focus on technology, and the fact that the school received technology grants to put infrastructure in the facility they’re presently in,” he said.

Comrie said the Cambria Heights Academy encourages an open-learning environment where students sit in the hallways and do their work —a culture parents thought would clash if the school were forced to share a space with IS 59.

A spokesman for the DOE said the department will be signing off on a long-term extension of the high school’s lease at St. Gerard’s Church, and funds will be allocated to upgrade the building.

Comrie said he would like to see the school continue to grow in its current location.

“To have a school on track to being a high-performing school in southeast Queens is something that many southeast Queens residents truly want,” he said. “We barely have adequate performing schools in southeast Queens as it is.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 5:04 pm, April 4, 2012
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