Relief is on the way for overcrowded Queens schools.
The city is on track to open five new schools next year and expand three more in Queens - the borough with the most overcrowded classrooms in the city.
"We are very pleased that we are continuing to open a number of new school facilities in Queens in the neighborhoods that need them most," Education Department spokesman Will Havemann said. "We hope to alleviate the burden at other nearby schools through rezoning as well."
The largest of the new projects is the $158 million Metropolitan Ave. campus in Forest Hills. It is to house three new schools, including a special ed program. The city is also constructing a $23 million building for Public School 273 in Richmond Hill, Havemann said.
The Education Department is also in talks to lease two buildings that made up the former Blessed Sacrament School in Jackson Heights, which closed in June. An elementary school is expected to open in one of the buildings next fall, Havemann said.
"We need seats," said Isaac Carmignani, president of Community Education Council District 30, which discussed proposals for the Blessed Sacrament site on Nov. 19. "We are just overcrowded in all of our schools over there."
Carmignani said he's thrilled about the new school, but that it's not nearly enough.
"We probably need to add a few thousand seats in that side of the district to get us where we need to be," he said.
The city is gathering community feedback to help decide what kinds of schools should be opened in these buildings, Havemann said.
"We hope to make our decisions either in December or early January," Havemann said.
It is also looking into creating new schools in existing education facilities.
Andrew Baumann, president of Community Education Council District 27, said he is pleased that his district is expected to gain a new school - PS 273 - next year. But he, too, believes the city should be doing more to reduce overcrowding in the borough.
"Opening up a new building will most definitely alleviate some of the overcrowding," he said. "But we need to be a little more proactive when we have a housing swell."
Baumann would like the School Construction Authority to be notified of new housing developments. "We should be able to plan for that," he said.