New school down pipeline

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A new school is coming to School District 22 — in six years.

Fred Maley of the School Construction Authority (SCA) made that announcement at last week’s education town hall hosted by state Senator Marty Golden at P.S. 277 in Gerritsen Beach.

The new school would have 738 seats and offer classes in kindergarten to eighth grade.

The SCA would start the design phase in February 2012. Construction would be completed by July 2014.

The project would cost $64 million.

The SCA and city Department of Education (DOE) have yet to select a location for the new school building.

“Sometime between now and February 2012 we’ll have to pick a location,” Maley explained. “It’s an open slate at this point.”

The DOE wants the school to be located in a cramped part of the district, thereby relieving overcrowding at existing public schools. District 22 spans Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and parts of Midwood, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.

“We’re trying to put that school right where the overcrowding is,” Maley said. “We will look at our demographic projections” to determine the best location.

The real estate market will also play a factor since the SCA needs to purchase a large parcel of land.

“The problem we’re finding is finding available space,” Maley said.

The global fiscal crisis could ultimately help the city purchase land.

“We’re hoping this economic downturn can help us. As financing becomes hard for people, maybe the city can buy some of that land,” Maley said.

“Space is very difficult to find in District 22 and space is at a premium here. Maybe a downturn in the real estate market will be a benefit, maybe space will open up,” agreed Christopher Spinelli, president of District 22’s Community Education Council (CEC).

Spinelli expects the new school to be located “in the northern end of the district.”

“More of the Ditmas Park, Flatbush end of that area. There have historically been issues with overcrowding and zoning in that part of the district,” he said.

Spinelli is cautiously optimistic about building a new school, especially since the fiscal crisis has led the city and state to implement drastic budget cuts. In recent years, those budget cuts have nixed school construction projects.

“In the last capital plan, we were originally slotted for 2,400 [new] seats and they trimmed that down to 1,200 seats. And of that they only built about 800 because they either couldn’t find a location or budget constraints,” Spinelli said. This year, “because of the budget picture, I think that at some point they’re going to have to go back to the school construction budget and look at it.”

“I certainly welcome the seats,” Spinelli said. “I’ll welcome them even more when I can sit in them.”

Updated 3:43 pm, October 19, 2011
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