FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CHANCELLOR KLEIN ANNOUNCE 18 NEW SCHOOL BUILDINGS OPENING THIS FALL, MOST SCHOOLS TO OPEN IN A SINGLE YEAR UNDER THE CITY'S LARGEST-EVER CAPITAL PLAN
New Buildings to Serve More than 11,000 Students
88 Percent of Planned 63,000 New Capacity Seats are Completed or Underway; Over 116,000 Seats will be completed by 2012
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that 18 new school buildings with 11,471 classroom seats will open next week for the 2008-09 school year. The new construction represents the largest number of schools and classroom seats to open in a single year under the current five-year capital plan, which is the largest school construction effort in the City's history. The plan includes the creation of 63,000 new classroom seats by 2012 - 88 percent of which are either underway or already complete. Between 2002 and 2012, the City will add 116,500 seats. This year, the City has launched a record 27 new school construction projects as part of the Administration's effort to relieve pockets of overcrowding in the five boroughs, and since the plan started in July 2004, more than 80 schools are in process or have been completed. The Mayor made the announcement at one of the 18 new school buildings, PS 307 in the Corona section of Queens. He was joined by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, School Construction Authority (SCA) President Sharon Greenberger, and PS 307 Principal Cecilia Jackson, as well as community partners and parents.
"This is the biggest school construction plan in our City's history and it is changing the shape of our school system," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Across the five boroughs, we are building modern new schools with first-rate science labs, state-of-the-art technology, and outstanding athletic facilities. This year's opening of 18 new schools, which will be home to 11,000 students, is the latest milestone in a plan that will help produce 116,500 new seats by 2012 - enough seats to accommodate all the students in the entire City of Baltimore. By making record investments in school construction, and by adopting reforms that have reduced the cost of construction, we are now building the modern school system our children need to succeed in the 21st century."
"These 18 new buildings represent our commitment to creating great schools where our students can learn," said Chancellor Klein. "These schools are state-of-the-art buildings where students will learn and grow this fall and for many decades to come"
"We're taking dramatic steps to reduce pockets of overcrowding in our City's schools," Deputy said Chancellor Kathleen Grimm. "PS 307 is helping to create a great space to learn in one of our districts that most need additional seats."
"The School Construction Authority has worked extensively to find appropriate sites for new school construction," said SCA President Sharon Greenberger. "This year we are beginning to see the results. Between now and September 2010, we will open more than 40,000 new seats across the City."
"This new facility has the resources needed for our children to succeed in the 21st century," said PS 307 Principal Cecilia Jackson. "Students will receive a terrific education here."
The City has added new classroom seats this year in areas of need throughout the five boroughs. In all, the City is adding 4,266 seats in Queens, 2,179 in Brooklyn, 2,104 on Staten Island, 1,930 in the Bronx, and 992 in Manhattan.
PS 307 is an elementary school with 996 seats, 30 general education classrooms, and seven special education classrooms. In its first year, it will have two pre-Kindergarten classes and seven Kindergarten classes; grades will be gradually added each year. The building is fully air-conditioned and features a 300-seat auditorium, a gymnasium, science labs, a multi-purpose room, a cafeteria with a full-service kitchen, music and art rooms, and a medical suite. It also has two playgrounds, a 6,000-square-foot playground for younger students and a 7,000-square-foot playground for older students.
The current Capital Plan, approved by the Mayor and the City Council in 2004 and funded equally by the City and the State, includes $4.7 billion to build new schools, $3.3 billion to restructure current school space, and $5.1 billion to invest in existing assets, such as playgrounds, roofs, science labs, floors, and auditoriums. The new seats created this year bring the total number of new seats completed or underway in this Capital Plan to more than 55,400, and this does not include the tens of thousands of additional seats the City has created since 2002.
The newly-constructed school buildings opening in September
Over the past several years, improvements to school construction procedures, including cost cutting reforms have helped to reduce expenses and encourage greater competition in bidding for jobs. Today, the average bids for new school construction are significantly lower than they were before 2002, all the while increasing efficiency and maintaining the quality of construction. Many of the area's leading contractors who previously stayed away from these jobs have resumed bidding due to improved SCA procedures and performance. Over the past five years, the percentage of capital projects completed on time has jumped from 60 percent to 80 percent even as the number of projects has nearly tripled. During the same period, the percentage of projects completed within budget has also increased from 83 percent to 90 percent.
Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958
David Cantor (Department of Education)