Elected officials, school leaders and community members broke ground on the new four-story facility on Monday. Braving frigid temperatures, they put shovels in the ground for the $31.8 million building.
The addition, which will seat 440 students for grades kindergarten through eight, includes 18 standard classrooms, a reading resource room, a speech room, a project room and an exercise room. The project includes renovations to the current building, including enlarging the the cafeteria and expanding kitchen storage space.
School officials expect the addition to be open by September 2020.
“This is a win not only for the Middle Village community, but the whole District 24, one of the most overcrowded districts,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. “Not only will the 440 seats allow our kids to learn more comfortably, it will accept more students into the school, which is a huge win.”
PS/IS 128 is currently at 123 percent capacity. Crowley said when the current building opened up in 2009, it wasn’t large enough. Some students were forced to use an annex building across the street for classrooms. That building did not have a gym, computer labs or even, in some cases, windows.
“Little kids, especially our youngest and most vulnerable in kindergarten, first grade and second grade, should not be forced to go across the street into an old factory building without proper windows and ventilation,” Crowley said.
Community Education Council (CEC) 24 co-president Dmytro Fedkowskyj, who is also a parent at PS/IS 128, said his oldest daughter was among the first graduating class when the current building opened in 2009. He said it’s important to incorporate all of the students, teachers and administration back into one building.
“I expect nothing but the best out of here,” he said. “I know we’re all going to be happy.”
Lorraine Grillo, president of the School Construction Authority, asked for patience from the school community.
“Construction is difficult,” she said. “We will do our best not to interfere with the inner-workings of PS 128 as it’s in session.
“There will be those when people will complain about traffic, so we just need your continued support throughout this project,” Grillo added. “We will build you a beautiful school.”
Fedkowskyj said the three years of construction will just be a short-term inconvenience.
“The long-term results will be decades of optimal learning experiences for our kids,” he said. “That’s what we have to keep in mind.”