by Joseph Borelli on Jun 19, 2018 Featured

Published in the Staten Island Advance on June 19, 2018

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK – City officials broke ground Tuesday on a new $37 million school building that will serve students with disabilities.

The new building, located on the grounds of the PS 37 campus in Great Kills, will be known as H.S./I.S. 89.

Councilman Joe Borelli and Borough President James Oddo were joined by the School Construction Authority and staff and PTA members at PS 37 for the ceremony.

A District 75 school, PS 37 educates students who are on the autism spectrum, have cognitive delays, are severely emotionally challenged, sensory impaired or multiply disabled.

There is currently not enough space for students at PS 37’s Fairfield Street building. An overflow of kids attend classes at the Great Kills High School building, an annex of PS 37 that makes use of temporary trailers to serve hundreds of special needs students.

“There’s not much to say about this project that hasn’t already been said over the past decade or so, as the trailers that we’re replacing today are finally in the works now and being built,” said Borelli (R-South Shore). “It was a situation that anyone who saw [the trailers] knew that it was just unacceptable for some of our special needs students.”

“We all know how difficult it has been for so many years for our children,” said PTA co-president Ann Marie Donato. “They’ve had to cramp up in trailers. We really needed to come out and speak and let everyone know that we meant business because we need for our children what every other child gets in this world. It’s getting done and we’re so grateful to all of you here today.”

The project will be open in time for the 2020-2021 school year and will provide school seats for at least 192 students.

The three-floor standalone building, adjacent to PS 37’s main building, will have 16 new classrooms, a medical suite, three resource rooms, a physical therapy room, an occupational therapy room, a kitchen and about a dozen ADA-accessible bathrooms.

“I look forward to being back here when this wonderful building is built and you all get to treat our kids with the dignity and respect they deserve, that matches your commitment to them, a building that matches your commitment to them,” Oddo said.