2002-01-19 / Community

New Rockaway School: On? Off? Delayed?

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Nobody seems to know for sure the status of poor Public School 253, slated for Far Rockaway.

The school was funded in the original capital budget for next year. Then it was cut because of the Board of Education's shortfall of a couple of million dollars.

At the last minute, however, a deal was made between outgoing mayor Rudy Giuliani and the school board. The school was one of the few citywide that was restored to the budget.

Local education officials rejoiced.

"We're glad that the school is back on the budget," said school board president Steve Greenberg. "It is really needed to remediate the overcrowding in the eastern end of the peninsula."

Now, however, comes the latest in the travails of PS 253.

There are reports that the school, and another scheduled for District 27 in Richmond Hill, will be "delayed."

School Construction Agency (SCA) president Ronald Gottlieb said that he wants the two schools built on a less costly 24-month schedule rather than on the 18-month timetable originally scheduled.

"I can't, in my mind, justify the cost to get it done by September of 2003," Gottlieb told the authority's board of directors.

He added, "bids using the longer timetable were millions of dollars lower."

Officials at the SCA told The Wave that the school would be ready for students in September of 2004.

If that is the case, local school district officials, who have to plan for zoning and staffing the new school and putting students into seats, do not know about it.

"Officially, we are still planning for a September, 2003 opening date," a District 27 official told The Wave. "We have heard nothing different from the city or from the SCA,"

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