The city plans to add 416 seats at existing schools in District 26 as well as make improvements to 20 sites in northeast Queens, a spokeswoman for the School Construction Authority said this week.
Mary Leas, senior manager of external affairs for the SCA, told Community District Education Council 26 members that the city was also seeking a locale for a new high school in the district. But the search was being conducted primarily in Bayside and Auburndale, rather than in Douglaston or Little Neck.
Leas said there has been a greater demand for seats in the district during the past few years.
"For years, schools in the city were consistently overcrowded," she said at yesterday's CDEC 26 meeting. "The population began to go up and up. Now, more and more people are sending their kids to public schools. I suspect it is because of the economy."
Within the next few years, the city will complete capital improvement projects at 20 schools in District 26. Projects will include exterior masonry, added accessibility, creating elevators and escalators, parapets, dealing with flooding problems, playground redevelopment and adding low voltage electrical systems.
But the search for a high school in the district has, so far, been limited to Bayside and Auburndale. Leas said the construction of a new school at the former Leviton Manufacturing Co. property was currently not a viable option.
"That's almost on the Nassau border," she said. "It's not a desirable site. We want one that will be more accessible to public transportation."
Sites are currently being considered along Northern Boulevard, she said.
For years, residents and elected officials have complained that Bayside High School and Benjamin N. Cardozo High School were operating over capacity.
But Leas said Bayside and Auburndale residents have shown resistance at community meetings to building a new high school.
"Hopefully, when we come back here next year, we'll talk about how we are well into the design and not that we have been run off by the neighbors," she said of the search for a high school site in northeast Queens.
Robert Caloras, president of CDEC 26, said there are likely numerous spots in the district to build a new school.
"There's no law that says you have to have a certain amount of square feet to build a high school," he said.