Coney Island school expanding with new facilities and programming

Coney Island school expanding with new facilities and programming
Photo by Trey Pentecost

A Coney Island elementary school wrecked by Superstorm Sandy will benefit from new science and art facilities as part of a $2.5-million renovation of the grade school, Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) announced Friday.

PS 188 Michael Berdy School — located on Neptune Avenue between W. 33rd and W. 35th streets — is getting an engineering and robotics lab, a visual arts room, a library, and a new science room as part of capital project, which authorities claim will be completed by spring of 2020, Treyger said.

The council funds will also pay for a new digital media lab, build a music room with sound-proof walls, and upgrade the auditorium, adding new air conditioning, lighting, and audio technology to the theater. Among the school’s most cutting-edge additions is its new hydroponic lab — a room where students learn to grow plants in tubes, and can take their veggies home, according to the lab’s creator.

“They will engage in project-based systems learning, and at the same time enjoy delicious fresh produce that they can taste and take home to share with their families,” said Manuela Zamora, the executive director of NY Sun Works, a non-profit installing the lab.

The pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade school will begin offering after-school music and arts classes thanks to another grant Treyger secured for the school, and Council will fund new in-school counseling, health and wellness services, and therapeutic programming — such as art classes for kids who have experienced trauma.

The renovations mark a milestone for the elementary school, which sustained serious flooding damage in the 2012 superstorm, destroying the school’s boiler and forcing classes to temporarily relocate. Councilman Treyger criticized authorities as slow to install a new permanent boiler, making students and teachers sit through extreme temperatures after a temporary climate-control system went haywire.

“It had a tremendous impact on instruction and learning,” Treyger said, adding that a staffer for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who visited the school in 2013 could hardly take the heat. “He could barely last five to 10 minutes in the school because it was so hot.”

Authorities only installed a functional boiler only in 2017, the Brooklyn Eagle reported.

Treyger and Speaker Corey Johnson secured funding for the upcoming renovations from the 2020 City Council budget, and Treyger obtained a Council community arts engagement grant to fund the new after-school classes.

On Sept. 20, educators met the renovation’s announcement with excitement.

“It was an amazing day for us today at PS 188 in District 21,” said Antoinette Tucci, the elementary school’s principal.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams
Students hold up renderings of the school’s to-be-renovated arts, science, and engineering classrooms
Photo by Trey Pentecost