At long last, there will be more room for learning at Gravesend’s P.S. 97.
According to Councilmember Mark Treyger, who held a press conference at the school with representatives of the Department of Education (DOE), and the School Construction Authority (SCA), P.S 97 (The Highlawn School) will be getting added classroom space.
Treyger stated that the extension at P.S. 97, Stillwell Avenue near Avenue S, will create approximately 450 new seats, helping to resolve the overcrowding issues that the area has been facing in schools, which have resulted in students being placed in schools further from their homes.
The addition will also mean the removal of the four temporary classrooms currently housed in structures outside the main building that currently are home to the school’s pre-k students.
Over $100 million will be spent on the project which — as well as new classrooms — will also include a cafeteria, gym, and allow for an art and music rooms.
According to Treyger, this will help to accommodate the rapidly growing community and its needs, with a seat shortage across Community School District 21 — which includes Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Coney Island and Brighton Beach — amounting to approximately 2,400. P.S. 97 alone is at approximately 140 percent of capacity. He stressed that the expansion really “underscores the commitment and recognition of that need and to address that need.”
The extension will help the school better serve students “especially English Language learners and students with disabilities to be sewn in so seamlessly with their school, ” added DOE Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose, who was present along with District 21 Superintendent Isabel Dimola, P.S. 97 Principal Irina Cabello, Melanie La Rocca from the SCA and PTA members who had been pushing for the extension of the building.
Heather Fiorica, president of the Community Education Council (CEC) of School District 21, was also enthusiastic about the addition, noting, “It’s exciting to know that they [the students] will have more opportunities available to them.”
Cabello stated that work is expected to start in about a year and a half, with construction estimated to be completed by the year 2021.
Additional seats are also being added at P.S. 101, 2360 Benson Avenue, also in Gravesend.