Treyger pushed for extension of building to relieve overcrowding
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
District 21’s most overcrowded elementary school will be getting some relief, according to officials, who said the New York City (SCA) will be adding an extension to the building.
Councilmember Mark Treyger and representatives of the SCA and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) came to P.S. 97 at 1855 Stillwell Ave. in Gravesend on Monday to announce plans for an extension addition to the school’s building.
The extension is badly needed, according to Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), who said that P.S. 97 (also known as the Highlawn School) is currently operating at 143 percent of utilization.
"As a former educator, I am a firm believer that our children need a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment to see optimal performance in the classroom," said Treyger, who is a former high school teacher. "Because of these extensions, students will be in real classrooms rather than trailers, classrooms will see less overcrowding and teachers and staff will be able to keep their jobs while transportable classroom units are removed."
Treyger worked with representatives of the SCA and the DOE as well as leaders of the Community Education Council of School District 21 to secure the plans for the new addition to the building.
The extension is expected to be complete by September of 2021. It will provide space for approximately 450 students and is will include new art and music rooms, a gym and a cafeteria with a kitchen, officials said.
"This state-of-the-art facility will create over 450 high-quality and much-needed seats in Gravesend. This project builds on our strong partnership with local stakeholders and we look forward to beginning work on this exciting addition” said Lorraine Grillo, president and CEO of the SCA.
Deputy Schools Chancellor Elizabeth Rose said the extension is important. “This addition will help alleviate overcrowding in District 21 and provide new space to grow the school’s community,” she said.
P.S. 97 enjoys close ties to the Gravesend community, according to Principal Irina Cabello.
"P.S. 97, the Highlawn School, has been a staple of this community for almost 100 years. It has seen generations of families who attended the school and then remained in the neighborhood so their children and grandchildren would have an opportunity to attend P.S. 97. Many of the former students returned to the school as P.S. 97 staff members,” she said.
The extension will benefit neighborhood children, Cabello said. “As our community grew, it became necessary to expand the school building's capacity and to allow more neighborhood children to have a wonderful learning experience that our school provides. The extension will greatly improve the quality of care we provide to our kids as well as accommodate families of our community for many generations to come," the principal said.
Another District 21 school, P.S. 101, located at 2360 Benson Ave. in Bensonhurst, is also getting an extension to its building, Treyger said. The combined cost of the two construction projects is estimated at $100 million.