The Department of Education (DOE) plans to open the 1000-seat high school in phases.
In September of 2010, the school is slated to open for a freshman class of 250 students, leaving the school 75 percent under capacity for its first year of operation.
In subsequent years, the DOE would phase in the remaining students and grades, possibly one grade per year.
The school is primarily zoned for School Districts 24 and 28. Seating priority for the incoming freshman class has been evenly divided between the two districts.
Critics of the plan say District 24, and all of Queens generally, is getting short shrifted by the zoning and plan to phase-in students.
Community Board 5 voted December 9 to wait an extra month before issuing a resolution on the project, shooting down a proposal to green light the school as is.
Vincent Arcuri, CB5’s chairman, said the DOE’s zoning proposal makes little sense. He argued that census data shows that, when combined, the sections of districts 24 and 28 included in the zoning don’t have enough freshman to fill the incoming class.
“The zoning they currently have does not contain 250 freshman,” Arcuri said.
If it isn’t changed, he said the remaining open spaces would go to students from elsewhere in Queens and around the city. Arcuri has suggested expanding the District 24 area included in the school zoning farther west to capture more high school-aged students.
Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the Queens representative on the Panel for Education Policy, voiced strong opposition to the DOE’s plan to fill the school slowly by phasing in students over time. He said the DOE told him they believe opening the school at full capacity will set it up for failure.
“Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of waiting in Queens,” said Fedkowskyj. “We have high schools bursting at the seams.”
He outlined an alternative plan to open the school for 9th and 10th graders at once. That way, Fedkowskyj said, the school would open at 50 percent capacity right away, alleviating overcrowding at other high schools such as Grover Cleveland and Newtown high schools.
A DOE spokesperson was unavailable for comment.
While impasse over zoning continues, the DOE is finishing construction at the Woodhaven Boulevard-Metropolitan Avenue campus.
Besides the as-of-yet unnamed high school, the site will also house a second, 900-seat school, I.S./H.S. 167. Seating for that school is being split between districts 28 and 75, which will get 700 and 200 seats respectively.
It remains unclear exactly how the opening of another high school being built in nearby Maspeth might impact the two new schools.
Fedkowskyj said the Queens needs as many high school seats as it can get. “I don’t think that we have enough high school seats to serve the borough of Queens as it is,” he said.