In 2018, the school was at 142 percent of its student capacity.
All 12 public elementary schools in Queens Community District 6 are over capacity, according to data from the New York City Department of City Planning. Overcrowding plagues nearly all K-12 public schools in the district, which encompasses the neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Rego Park.
Take, for example, P.S. 196 Grand Central: The elementary school has faced a shortage of seats for years, forcing the Department of Education (DOE) to create waitlists. The shortfall has dismayed local parents, many of whom say they move to the area specifically for its schools.
Currently, the DOE lists P.S. 196’s capacity as 711 seats. A spokesman told the Queens Chronicle in April that the school already had 983 students enrolled.
This year the school opened an eighth 25-seat kindergarten class to meet demand, bringing the total enrollment to 1,008 students—and putting the school at 142 percent capacity.
To accommodate these extra seats, for the last few years the school has opened an annex at a nearby Jewish Reform Temple to house extra kindergarten classes.
The Reform Temple of Forest Hills, just one block from the school, contains three of the school's eight kindergarten classes and a separate cafeteria, according to parents.
“The annex is great, because P.S. 196 is huge and I was worried it would be overwhelming,” said Victoria Treanor, 37, whose son made it off the annual waitlist for the school. “It’s a lot more intimate, and they don’t have to share their lunchtime.”
Overcrowding is not limited to the elementary schools. The middle schools of the district have mostly sufficient capacity, but Forest Hills High School, the larger of the two high schools in the district, is 94 percent over capacity—nearly double its limit.
In the 2016-2017 school year, 3093 students were enrolled, when the school only had the capacity for 2007 students, according to the NYC School Construction Authority.
Current enrollment figures can be found at the NYC Department of Education.