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Largest-ever SCA project among 26 new school sites this year

The city’s largest new school building since the founding of the School Construction Authority will open for classes next week, creating room for more than 2,000 students in the Bronx.

The seats at the Mott Haven Educational Complex are among more than 17,000 new classroom seats that will become available when school starts next week, city officials announced today.

Of the 26 new school sites opening this year, 15 are completely new school buildings. Three projects add annexes to existing buildings, and eight sites are opening in newly-leased space. Nearly 700 of the new seats will be set aside for students in the city’s District 75 program for special education students.

Not all of the new seats will be filled with students when schools open next week. I’ve asked the DOE for estimates about how many of the seats they expect will be filled this year, and will update when I hear back. A map showing where the new seats added this year are located is below the jump.

Sweating on a blacktop next to Mott Haven’s new football field as construction workers put finishing touches on the building behind them, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chancellor Joel Klein and other city officials said that this year’s new seats put the Department of Education on track to add 100,000 school seats by 2013.

Bloomberg and Klein contend that their school construction efforts are the largest in the city’s history. But critics of the administration argue that the city needs to accelerate new construction even more dramatically to ease the burden of overcrowding. The new seats that will be created this year were funded almost entirely by the city’s 2005-2009 capital plan, which spent $13.1 billion on new schools. In the next five years, the city plans to spend about $2 billion less to create new seats.

Bronx officials today hailed the opening of the Mott Haven campus, which comes after years of controversy over the site’s environmental quality. Adolfo Carrion, Jr., who was Bronx borough president when plans for the new campus began and who is now regional administrator at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, praised the city’s persistence in cleaning up the site to create badly-needed classroom seats in the Bronx.

“This is one of the sites that because of the toxicity, because of the controversy, it was probably easy to walk away from,” Carrion said.

Located on land that once contained a railyard, laundry and plant that made gas from coal, the 6-acre site required $30 million in clean-up. In 2008, a state judge ruled that the city violated environmental law when it began construction on the building before developing a plan to ensure that future students would not be exposed to pollutants.

In the end, the construction and clean-up will cost between $230 and $250 million, School Construction Authority chief Lorraine Grillo estimated today.

View NYC DOE new school buildings opening 2010 in a larger map

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