2016-11-02 / Features

Simotas Funds AC For PS 85


Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas announced all the classrooms of PS 85 that face the train will soon have air conditioners. She was joined by (l. to r.); Evie Hantzopoulos, a former PS 85 parent and Parents Association co-President, Lisa Tapper Parents Association co-President and PS 85 Principal Ann Gordon-Chang. Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas announced all the classrooms of PS 85 that face the train will soon have air conditioners. She was joined by (l. to r.); Evie Hantzopoulos, a former PS 85 parent and Parents Association co-President, Lisa Tapper Parents Association co-President and PS 85 Principal Ann Gordon-Chang. Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas announced on October 27 that grant money she obtained from the NYS Assembly is being used to pay for the purchase and installation of air conditioners at PS 85, the Judge Charles Vallone Elementary School, 23-70 31st Street in Astoria, which is just a few feet from the elevated N and Q subway tracks. All classrooms with windows facing the elevated subway line are getting air conditioners. Thirty-one air conditioners were installed on October 18th, and the remaining 10 will be installed by the end of the year.

When PS 85 was built in 1907, there was no subway line along 31st Street. The elevated Astoria line went into service in 1917. Since then, on hot days teachers are forced to interrupt their lessons every few minutes as the trains pass by if they open windows to relieve the heat in their classrooms.

“For far too long, teachers and students have been forced to choose between stifling heat if they keep windows closed or interrupted lessons from the noise of passing subway trains when they open the windows. The choice between these two atrocious conditions was an impediment to learning. I’m proud I was able to secure funding through the Assembly to finally end the long running battle that parents and teachers have waged to end the noise pollution at PS 85 in Astoria. I’m happy that the classrooms facing the train tracks will finally have air conditioners,” said Assemblywoman Simotas, who represents the 36th Assembly District in Astoria.

“I am extremely elated that classrooms are being equipped with air conditioners. Who would have imagined 14 years ago, when I became Principal of the Judge Charles J. Vallone School, that a project of this magnitude would become reality. The noise pollution endured by our children has always been a major concern to families and the school community, and we all worked in unison to get where we are today. A sincere thank you to Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, P.S. 85 parents and school community, Lorraine Grillo and numerous others for their tireless efforts in bringing all facets of this project to fruition,” said Ann Gordon-Chang, Principal of P.S. 85, the Judge Charles J. Vallone School.

“With my early research and other academic studies demonstrating that noise can intrude on classroom learning, I am pleased that P.S. 85, which is situated so close to the elevated train tracks, will now have air conditioners in the classroom windows so that classroom teaching and learning will be far less impacted by passing train noise during the warm months with windows that can now remain closed,” said Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D. Dr. Bronzaft is an environmental psychologist who has been studying the effects of noise on behavior and health for over 30 years. She published a groundbreaking study in 1975 of students at a Manhattan school near the elevated #1 line that found students in classrooms that faced the subway tracks performed measurably worse on reading tests than students on the quiet side of the building.

“This is incredibly good news for students and teachers who will no longer have to choose between two equal evils. With air conditioners, students’ focus will increase, they’ll learn better, and will no longer stumble out of stifling hot classrooms like a pile of goo,” said Lisa Tapper, Co- President of the P.S. 85 Parent’s Association.

“I am thrilled that parents, elected officials, School Construction Authority, and the school administration were all able to work together to finally do what is best for the children,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, a former P.S. 85 parent and Parents Association co-President whose daughter graduated from the school in June 2016. “I’m proud of what we accomplished together and even though my children will not benefit, I couldn’t be happier for the current and future PS 85 community,” Hantzopoulos added.

The Department of Education had already upgraded the electrical system and installed sound absorbing acoustic tiles in the school walls; and two years ago, the MTA attempted to lessen the problem by installing lubrication devices, replacing worn switch components and fractured rails, and installing noise dampeners to reduce the sound of the air brakes on all N and Q trains. “But the train noise was still horrendous when windows were opened for ventilation on hot days,” said Simotas.

“I want to thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for making this grant possible and I want to thank the Parents Association for never giving up their fight to get this problem solved,” said Assemblywoman Simotas.

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2019 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.