2001-12-29 / Front Page

Looming School Crisis’ New Home Owners May Find School Seats Scarce

By Howard Schwach

Looming School Crisis’
New Home Owners May
Find School Seats Scarce
By Howard Schwach

Home building abounds all over the peninsula, from Beach 9 Street to Bayswater to the West End, much to the delight of local activists who see the new construction as a major component of Rockaway’s revitalization.

School officials, however, fear that the new residents who buy those homes may find that seats both their local schools and in local private and parochial schools may well be limited or even non-existent.

"We are seeing a looming crisis in our local schools," says Community School Board President Steve Greenberg. "We’re building multi-bedroom homes all over the peninsula, homes that will appeal to families with children. Unfortunately, there may not be a school seat for those children when the time comes for them to register for school."

According to Greenberg, there are only two schools on the peninsula that are not over utilized at the present time – Ms 198 in Arverne and MS 180 in Rockaway Beach.

Two new schools are planned for the peninsula. One of those is a 700-seat elementary school, tentatively planned as a charter school, which will be built by the developer as part of the Arverne By The Sea project that will begin development in March or April. With 2,100 homes slated for the project when it is completed, experts say that there may be upwards of 3,000 children living within the project area.

In addition, there are many new homes being built in Bayswater, in and around the old Playland site, on the old Little League site and across the street from PS 225.

"We have to expect that all of those homes will have children of school age," Greenberg says. "The school board would be remiss if we did not start to point out that there will have to be school seats for these kids when the time comes."

"All of the elementary schools in Rockaway are now crowded," he added. "All of the parochial schools are full. The new school being planned for Far Rockaway will be overcrowded the day it opens. Where will these new kids go to school."

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