Elected and city officials announced on Monday that the eleven trailers, which house 17 classes and 105 children for PS 255, a school for special needs children, will be removed. The students will have a new home at the PS 397 building in Long Island City.
“For over 15 years, the trailers behind us have been here at the PS 151 schoolyard and left Q255 students without a permanent school building,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides.
According to the councilman, though the trailers were meant to be temporary to house students due to overcrowding, the units stayed around for more than two decades. In fact, when newly-elected Woodside Assemblyman Brian Barnwell was a student at PS 151, the trailers were installed, Constantinides said.
“It's been way too long,” he said.
The councilman said over the years the trailers have become old and damaged. He said they’re not ideal learning spaces for students.
Starting next school year, he announced, the students at Q255 will have a permanent home. PS 397 in Long Island City, formerly the site of the Most Precious Blood Catholic School, currently houses just a pre-K program, he said.
The Department of Education will vote on the re-siting of Q255 at its April meeting of the Panel for Education Policy.
“Bringing in these students will better utilize the space in the long-term basis,” Constantinides said.
The new location will include a sensory garden, early intervention programs and adapted physical education. The student-teacher ratio for Q255 will remain at six to one, he said.
While Q255 students get their new building, the trailers will be removed, which will give the school yard space back to students at PS 151.
“This plan is a win for everyone,” he said. “This is a promise kept to all of our kids and this neighborhood.”
Borough President Melinda Katz has focused on removing classroom trailers during her term. Her two young children’s schoolyard in Forest Hills also has temporary trailers, but they will come out soon as well.
“The trailers sometimes make the population in there feel like they’re not really in a school, not really in their own place,” Katz said.
According to Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose, the DOE has more than $400 million in their capital plan to remove classroom trailers citywide.
Steve and Lenore Koppelman are parents at Q255. They were excited about the prospect of a new space for the school.
“When you’re a child of special needs, you feel different and you want to fit in,” Lenore Koppelman said. “When your friends are all going to big fancy buildings and they have gyms, it can be hard and you can feel forgotten in a trailer.
“This is a dream come true,” she added.