Nov. 7, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez
An elementary school in East Williamsburg will be getting a brand new building dedicated to physical education, one of several Brooklyn and citywide schools set to receive upgrades on PE space as part of a city initiative to provide designated places for exercise.
The school, P.S.18 at 101 Maujer St., will see a one-story gymnasium built on the lot, according to building permits filed on Nov. 6. The new building will be 4,500 square-feet in area, and will also hold office and storage space. The gymnasium will cater to about 200 students at a time.
The five-story elementary school seats 178 students, and serves grades one through five, as well as kindergarten and Pre-K, according to the school’s Department of Education profile. The school also has a playground in the rear, where the gymnasium will be constructed.
The plans for a new gymnasium come after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s June announcement of a Universal Physical Education Initiative, which would see that all schools have a designated PE space by 2021. The $385 million program centers on 200 public schools that currently do not have a gymnasium.
The first phase of the program takes a look at 76 schools within the 200 that do not have any designated PE space. At the time of the June announcement, the School Construction Authority (SCA) identified 20 schools that had outdoor space able to accommodate a new gym, a stand-alone gym, or a school-yard renovation.
P.S. 18 has held its PE courses on the first floor of the school building, said Alison Alexander, the school’s principal. According to records from the SCA, the school does not have a gymnasium, and the school’s yard served as physical education space 50 percent of the time between 2016 and 2017, with the other half spent inside the building.
The SCA is also looking at other options outside of constructing new gymnasiums, including renovating schoolyards, converting existing rooms into fitness areas, and turning auditoriums into “gymnatoriums”. The city has set aside $1.8 million for some schools to lease PE space in proximity to be used as gym space.
The SCA did not immediately respond to questions about the new gymnasium and its construction timeline.