Schools across the country are facing serious overcrowding problems. Overcrowding is particularly acute in Queens County. Queens schools, from pre-Kindergarten to high school, are short some 27,000 seats this year, a number which is not expected to decrease any time soon. Some school districts in other locales don't even enroll that many kids.
The reasons for the overcrowding vary. They include the "Baby Boomer Echo" in which the children and in some cases grandchildren of the post World War II Baby Boom, which itself resulted in some of the most overcrowded schools in the country's history, began having their own children and especially in Queens, waves of immigration which brought families to our shores which include children whom the laws of this country mandate must be provided with free public education. Whatever the cause, the fact remains that schools are bulging at the seams. Additions and entire new buildings must be built as soon as they can be safely and soundly constructed.
The need for new schools being very much in evidence, it is distressing to note that in some instances efforts at building new schools have met with considerable opposition. Only after Borough President Claire Shulman and other officials testified in its favor did the City Council and the School Construction Authority undertake measures to build a school on Grand Avenue in Maspeth. An appliance store at 50th Street and Queens Boulevard in Community Board 2 recently went out of business after its owner retired, promptly sparking a battle between school officials and area residents as to whether a school or another appliance store would occupy the site.
The fact remains that the borough desperately needs new schools, for now and for the future. New York City, the state and the country at large cannot continue to exist without a well-educated citizenry.