DOE will cram more students into PS 24


School officials have settled on a strategy for accommodating the oversized student body at the Spuyten Duyvil School (P.S. 24).

With the school losing access to five off-site classrooms next fall, the Department of Education (DOE) announced last week that P.S. 24 will create new classrooms in an on-site lunch room and convert three adjacent areas into classrooms.

The decision to house even more students in the already overcrowded 660 W. 236th St. school irked some parents.

“We’re not going to block the doorway to prevent work from going forward,” said P.S. 24 Parents’ Association Co-president Bob Heisler. “We’re not happy about it, but we’ll try to work with it.”

The student body of just over 1,000 is about twice the size P.S. 24 was originally designed, in 1950, to accommodate. In the fall, parents were shocked to learn that the School Construction Authority (SCA) had failed to renew its lease for the Whitehall annex, where P.S. 24 has housed its fifth-grade classes since 2009. Local politicians became involved in the search for a new space, but the SCA could not find any suitable options. 

In moving to keep all the students within P.S. 24, the city opted against another option on the table — co-locating at least two classrooms at the neighboring David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy (M.S./H.S. 141, RKA).

Parents and administrators from RKA opposed that move, saying the school will likely be overcrowded next year even without losing any classrooms. More than 400 people signed an online petition opposing the co-location.

Mr. Heisler said losing part of the cold lunch room will be a blow to the school, as the space is also used for indoor recess and gym classes for younger grades. 

“It’s not the best solution, but it seems to be the only doable solution at this point,” he said.

To accommodate the loss of the annex’s five classrooms, P.S. 24 will have a maximum of seven kindergarten classes next year, according to Marvin Shelton, the head of District 10’s Community Education Council. The school currently has eight. 

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