March 10, 2022 By Christian Murray
A new school that caters to the needs of students with autism and children with cognitive disabilities will be opening inside the P.S. 11 building in Woodside.
The District 75 school, which caters to public school students with significant challenges, will be co-located at P.S. 11 and will serve anywhere from 48 to 96 elementary school students. There will be eight special classes, with their size being determined based on the learning needs of the students.
The school, which will share the same 54-25 Skillman Ave. address as P.S. 11, will open in September for the 2022-2023 year. It will be called P255Q@Q011.
Some children, based on their IEP level, will be in classes that will have six students, with one teacher and one paraprofessional; others will be in classes with 8 students, along with a teacher and paraprofessional; while the largest classes will have 12 students, along with a teacher and paraprofessional.
The new school has universal support from the P.S. 11 community, according to the Dept. of Education.
The co-location is supported by the principal and school leadership team of P.S. 11, as well as the P.S. 11 PTA, Community Education Council 30 and the superintendents of the districts.
“Families are at the center of every potential co-location decision,” said Nathaniel Styer, a spokesperson for the Dept. of Education. “School and district leadership work with educators and parents to make sure the entire building is a welcoming environment and home for every student, and the community is overwhelmingly supportive of co-locating a much-needed D75 program with P.S. 11.”
In Queens, the number of students attending special classes at District 75 schools has increased by 17 percent since the 2016-2017 school year, according to the Dept. of Education.
The department anticipates that the need for District 75 elementary seats will continue to grow across the borough and is taking steps to increase its capacity to serve students who reside in Queens and who have the classification of autism, intellectual disability, or multiple disabilities on their IEP.
The P.S. 11 building was identified as having sufficient space to accommodate a new District 75 site to help meet the projected District 75 needs in Queens. The building expanded in 2017, with the addition of a $92 million annex that added 350 seats.
The annex replaced 10 trailers that used to seat about 220 kindergarten and first-grade students.