Community Board 9 members at their meeting Tuesday night overwhelmingly opposed the city Department of Education’s plan to relocate Richmond Hill High School ninth grade students from their current location in an annex to the school’s main building, as well as to a “temporary classroom unit,” otherwise known as a trailer.
While city education officials said the move would occur because RHHS freshmen are now in classes situated in the former St. Benedict Joseph Labre Catholic School at 94-25 117th St. – which is slated to become a new high school in September 2014 – board members and civic leaders said it will further stress an overcrowded Richmond Hill High School. All but one board member at the meeting voted to oppose the city’s re-siting of the grade level. The only board member who did not oppose the proposal abstained.
“They’re going to take away that annex and are going to put kids into a trailer?” said Richmond Hill High School Parent Teacher Association Secretary Vishnu Mahadeo, who vehemently criticized the city’s proposal at CB 9’s meeting. While some of the freshmen would be placed in Richmond Hill High School’s main building, city officials have said others would be placed in a trailer located just outside the facility.
Mahadeo and board members have repeatedly spoken about overcrowded conditions at RHHS, but city education officials said the new high school at the St. Benedict’s site would decrease the high school’s population. According to the DOE, enrollment at RHHS would drop from 2,184 students this year to as low at 1,580 pupils in the 2017-18 class.
“The DOE strives to ensure that all students in New York City have access to a high quality school at every stage of their education,” the DOE said in its educational impact statement about the RHHS plan, which will be voted on at the city Panel for Educational Policy Nov. 26 meeting. “The opening of a new district high school…is intended to provided an additional option to students and families in District 27 and in Queens at large.
“The DOE is planning to gradually decrease Richmond Hill’s enrollment by approximately 420 to 460 students over a period of four years,” the DOE continues in its impact statement.
By Anna Gustafson