City floats new 300-seat school for former Sunset Park market

City floats new 300-seat school for former Sunset Park market
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The city is building a new school in Sunset Park to ease overcrowding in the area.

The School Construction Authority plans to erect a 300-seat, K–5 school over an old supermarket at Eighth Avenue at 46th Street as officials try to chip away at a 2,600-seat deficit in the borough’s School District 15.

The proposed new building wouldn’t reverse overcrowding in the area, but it is a sign that the city is making a serious effort, according to the district manager of Community Board 7.

“The School Construction Authority is making a strong push right now to find school sites in Sunset Park like we have not seen,” said Jeremy Laufer. “And we’re hoping we and others can continue to help them find appropriate sites.”

Schoolhouses in District 15 — which stretches from Cobble Hill to Sunset Park — are more than 2,600 students over their collective capacity, city records show.

And the problem is growing faster than the city guessed.

Officials predicted in 2012 that enrollment in the district would not hit 30,000 students until 2019 — it is currently just over 32,600.

Officials have set aside $325 million to construct 3,800 seats in the district over the next five years, but they have struggled to find space to actually build the schools.

It is so dire that School Construction Authority workers have begun cold-calling property owners in Sunset Park to see if they are willing to sell or know anyone who is.

Area residents suggested the Eighth Avenue site to the city — it is one of eight community-suggested sites locals have pitched that officials are now investigating as potential schools.

The public review process for the Eighth Avenue school will being in January. District 15 officials, community board members, and locals will get a chance to weigh in on the proposal at public meetings — a process that typically takes 45 days. Afterward the city will conduct an environmental review and then submit the project for approval to the Council and the Mayor’s office, according to a School Construction Authority spokesman.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.