Tag Archives: Cambria Heights

Pols put a stop to dangerous traffic at Cambria Heights intersection

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Drivers passing through an accident-prone intersection can now do so more safely thanks to new streetlights.

In Cambria Heights, the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 121st Avenue has been a notorious site for car crashes. Local officials responded and worked to get three streetlights put up along the busy roadway.

Councilmembers Donovan Richards and I. Daneek Miller, whose districts meet at the intersection, advocated for the safety measure in the residential neighborhood.

“For a very long time, this intersection has been dangerous to not only my district but Daneek’s district,” Richards said. “Today, you don’t see cars crisscrossing each other.”

Miller’s predecessor, Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie, started work on the traffic installment during his time as a councilmember. Miller took over the project after his term began this month.

“I live and grew up on this street,” Miller said. “We’ve been watching it grow. We have a real increase in traffic that needs to be addressed.”

In recent years, Cambria Heights has experienced several traffic fatalities. A 27-year-old man lost his life in March 2013 after losing control of his vehicle while on icy Francis Lewis Boulevard, and Paulina Rodriguez, 24, died in a three-car accident after she ran a stop sign on 115th Avenue and 227th Street.


Netball added to Cambria Heights, Saint Albans middle schools programs

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Netball America

Young girls in south Queens now have an opportunity to play a different version of a familiar sport.

Netball, a form of basketball that is primarily played by women and girls, was added to the Department of Education’s Cooperative, Healthy, Active, Motivated, and Positive Students (CHAMPS) program, which provides a variety of sports and activities for youngsters in hundreds of public schools.

P.S./ M.S. 147 Ronald McNair in Cambria Heights and I.S. 192 The Linden school in Saint Albans are among a list of six schools in the city that are currently participating in a pilot program to introduce the sport.

“I’m so excited, because our goal was to get into the U.S. educational system,” Sonya Ottaway, president of Netball America, said. “It’s a great opportunity to get girls more active and just get them excited about sports again. It’s about giving them another option.”

Although Netball was invented around the same time as basketball, the sport is very popular in foreign countries, such as Australia, England and countries in the Caribbean. Now about 70 million people in 20 countries play the sport, according to stats from Netball America.

Netball, like basketball, mainly consists of shooting a ball in a hoop to score points. However, unlike basketball opposing players are not allowed to contact each other and there are seven instead of five players on each side of the court. Also, players on offense don’t dribble, but pass to advance the ball, and some players are redistricted to certain areas of the court.

Since mostly girls play the sport, traditional uniforms have skirts. However, boys can play the sport with shorts.

“Basketball is too rough and soccer or rugby girls shy away from it,” Ottaway said. “Because it’s none contact sport, boys and girls can play together. How many sports can you have boys and girls on the same court?”

Having the sport in the middle school system is significant, because netball organizations having been trying to grow it around the country for years. Ottaway hopes it will expand through children, who will grow with the sport.

“Right now we are starting with the middle schools,” Ottaway said. “We want to have everyone, but we are doing it piece by piece. Once [girls] see it, it’s going to pick up like wildfire.”

If the sport becomes popular, it’ll be added to other CHAMPS schools around the borough and in the city as well.



Clyde Vanel latest to enter race for Malcolm Smith’s Senate seat

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The race for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat is widening with new contender Clyde Vanel.

Vanel joins attorney Munir Avery to try and snag the Senate seat from Smith, who was arrested last April for corruption charges.

“We have zero representation right now in the Senate,” Vanel said of the 14th Senate District, which comprises of southeast Queens neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Queens Village, Hollis and Cambria Heights.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights native, wants to focus on bringing jobs back to the district and straightening out “Albany’s dysfunction.”

“We need to bring more jobs to our state and economic policy,” he said. “I have owned and run businesses before. I’ve had employees. I’m a business attorney, so I understand the policies and regulations that make it difficult for people to keep small businesses in New York.”

Vanel most recently ran to replace the term-limited Councilmember Leroy Comrie, but fell short by two percent of the votes to current Councilmember Daneek Miller in September’s primary.

Since then, the attorney said he has “been trying to get back on my feet” and expand support in the district for this upcoming election.

If elected, he said he would “be loyal to the Democratic Party,” criticizing Smith for associating with the Independent Democratic Conference, a bipartisan legislative branch. He also hopes to find alternative ways to bringing in revenue outside of raising taxes.

“We have to be more creative with respect to how do we generate revenue from the government, and how do we do more with less,” he said.

He added he will soon be releasing a plan of ideas on how to do so.

“I’m the best person that is currently in the race now,” he said. “The thing is, I’m not running against Malcom Smith, I’m running for the seat. The plan of attack is to just stand on the issues.”



West Nile spraying in Queens this week

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

On Thursday, August 22 there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Monday, August 26, during the same hours.

Parts of  Auburndale, Murray Hill, Pomonok and Queensboro Hill (Bordered by: Northern Boulevard, Sanford Avenue, 156th Street, 46th Avenue, and Holly Avenue to the north; Kissena Boulevard to the west; Long Island Expressway to the south; and Fresh Meadow Lane and Auburndale Lane to the east).

Parts of  Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Saint Albans (Bordered by Linden Boulevard to the north; 170th Street, Ring Place, 171st Street to the west; 125th Ave, Merrick Boulevard, 223rd Street and 130th Avenue to the south; and Francis  Lewis Boulevard, 121st Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard to the east).

For the sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10 a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department  recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

Cambria Heights residents demand action after cars crash into accident-prone home

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

For residents of one Cambria Heights block, it was nothing new.

In the early morning hours of Friday, May 3, two cars reportedly collided and then careened into a home near the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 133rd Avenue. According to residents, traffic conditions create a high number of accidents in the area.

“This is something that’s been happening for a while,” said Roxanne Depeiza, who lives next door to the damaged home.

Depeiza said the home’s resident, Pat Austin, frequently deals with her property being damaged, with cars regularly knocking down her fence. Friday’s accident was the second time her stairs have been destroyed, according to Depeiza.

“Those stairs are her entrance and exit to the house,” she said. “What does she do now?”

Austin could not be reached for comment.

Depeiza said last month, two cars got into an accident on the block and slid into her own parked van, “totaling” it completely.

Along Francis Lewis Boulevard, one traffic light is at 133rd Avenue, with another a short distance away at Merrick Boulevard. Residents said that cars speed down the road to make green lights.

“Once that first light changes, you don’t have much time to make the second,” said David Varick, who lives on the block.

Depeiza said she has asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install speed bumps in the area, but to no avail.

The DOT said it has not received any requests, but will review the location for the applicability of safety enhancements.

The department added there have been no fatalities, pedestrian injuries or serious driver injuries at the intersection between 2007 and 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

“Somebody needs to do something about this before someone dies,” said Depeiza. “It’s getting worse every year. I could go on and on about how many accidents we see here.”




Neighborhood Care center will help solve policy problems

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Ben Scaccia, the lead strategic implementation specialist for Emblem Health’s Neighborhood Care, told a room full of civic and religious leaders in southeast Queens that the insurance company’s new centers throughout the city were set to be “open, personal statements in the community.”

Emblem’s Neighborhood Care center in Cambria Heights is set for a test opening on October 29 at its new Linden Boulevard site, but its grand opening for the public will be in December. The goal of this facility, Emblem representatives said, was to provide a face-to-face help center for policy holders that will help with any problems they might have with bills or coverage. It will be open Monday through Saturday and provide help in English and Spanish.

The center will also go beyond normal policy help, Emblem staffers noted, and look to help members with their health and ability to pay for co-pays.

The center is open to any policy holder, he said, with a smaller scale of the site’s features available to non-members.

In addition to bill and coverage services, the representatives said health classes would be offered to help particularly target the high diabetic demographic in the region.

Several community leaders in attendance suggested that while diabetes is a major issue in the community, the care center should later explore targeting concerns of asthma and obesity in the region.

Philippa Karteron, executive director of the Council for Airport Opportunity, told the Emblem team that she currently had a package with the company for her staff. Karteron asked if the care center could come visit her office, or if she could bring her staff to the center, to inform them of what assistance the site really offered.

David Fleminster assured her that small businesses working with Emblem would have the option of bringing in staff to completely understand what Neighborhood Care offered, or Emlbem can visit an office to inform the staff.

Dr. Eliza Ng, a senior medical director at Emblem, summed the presentation up by saying that it was not just about retaining policy holders but supporting them.

“We want to be part of the dialogue,” Ng said. “I think we would like to be there and help people take care of their families and loved ones.”

Districting debacle: Blurry line for Cambria Heights

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the NYC Districting Commission

Cambria Heights residents are standing unified against a proposal to divide them into two council districts.

Around 400 people attended an emergency town hall meeting on Sunday, October 21, hosted by attorney and assembly hopeful Clyde Vanel.

“We were expecting 40 people,” said Vanel, who was pleasantly surprised by the community turnout.

Vanel told the community that the New York City Districting Commission was drawing up plans to move a section of Cambria Heights from District 27 into the neighboring District 31. This map was based on population changes from the 2010 census, designed to make sure each district contains an equal number of constituents.

However, at Community Board 13’s monthly meeting the next day on Monday, October 22, residents learned that the commission is working on revising this proposed map, and trying to keep the neighborhood together.

Jonathan Ettricks, director of community outreach for the commission, attended Monday’s meeting and spoke to over 100 concerned residents.

“The first proposal cut out a small piece of Cambria Heights based on population change only,” said Ettricks. “It didn’t take into account the needs and concerns of the people of Cambria Heights.”

The current line for District 27 runs along 121st Avenue from Springfield Boulevard to the Cross Island Parkway. The preliminary draft moves 119th Avenue from Springfield Boulevard to 230th Street into District 31.

Ettricks said that the first proposal was scratched last week — before Sunday’s town hall meeting — and that “the people who organized the meeting hadn’t looked at the [districting] website or called me.”

After a second public hearing on Wednesday, October 10, the commission began revising maps based on public input.

“The goal is to try to put Cambria Heights into [District] 27,” said Ettricks.

“They’re going to ‘try’?” countered Vanel, who is continuing to urge community engagement.

Vanel insists that Sunday’s emergency meeting was necessary, because a large majority of the community was still unaware of the redistricting proposal, as shown from the large turnout.

“I don’t understand how the commission could tell the community: ‘We met, we’ll try to keep Cambria Heights in one community, but the process is still going,” said Vanel. “How definitive is that?”

At the town hall meeting, Vanel passed around a petition, and hopes to acquire 1,000 signatures. He also suggests that residents write letters to the commission voicing their concerns. The process, according to Vanel, is “still not over.”

“Go to your block, go to your neighbors, go to your friends. Empower yourselves,” he said.

However, Ettricks said that the commission is in fact working to accommodate the neighborhood.

“As long as Cambria Heights can be put into [District] 27 as a whole without exceeding the deviation called for by the charter, it’s something that could be done, and that’s what we’re looking at now,” he said.

The New York City charter that Ettricks referenced requires drawing district lines that keep neighborhoods intact.

The next public meeting addressing this issue, among others citywide, is being held at New York Law School on Tuesday, October 30, at 1 p.m. Final draft plans from the commission will be submitted to the City Council by November 5; if those plans are rejected, another round of public hearings will commence. Residents can visit www.nyc.gov/districting for more information.

“People need to continue to pay attention to the process,” said Ettricks.

Synagogue, residents at odds over busing

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

In Cambria Heights, a battle rages on between an area synagogue and longtime residents.

The Congregation Ohel Chabad Lubavitch proposed earlier this year to create a layover zone on Francis Lewis Boulevard, in between 227th and 228th Streets, for buses that transport congregants. The vehicles would take worshippers to and from services, and wait parked until pick-up times in front of Montefiore Cemetery.

However, residents of the residential area are far from pleased with the idea.

“You have to realize, this is not the Port Authority. This is not Canal Street. What you’re doing is you’re actually dropping off 50-60 people per bus in front of someone’s house,” said Tanya Cruz, the head of Community Board 13’s Transportation Committee.

A constant flow of people visit each day, with the number swelling on religious occasions, according to Ohel officials. Director Abba Refson compared the synagogue to a “museum in Manhattan,” said that people from all over the world visit the site. It has had visitors from places as near as New Jersey and far as Australia, and Refson wishes to accommodate these guests.

The Ohel has become a destination for thousands of religious Jews, for it is the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. Jews from all over the world are said to come to the site to receive inspiration and blessings from the revered spiritual leader of the Chabad-Lubavitcher movement, who died in 1994.

Each group that visits is responsible for providing its own transportation, and must cover the costs. Price varies with each group, determined in part by the length of the trip and the type of bus they choose to travel in, whether it is a charter bus or a school bus.

According to Cruz, the group’s lawyer, Lyra Altman, said only five to seven buses would be present at the site at a time.

“There are buses that come every day, and very often they don’t have parking and they double park,” said Refson. “There are complaints from the neighbors regarding the buses idling.”

The layover zone would theoretically eliminate engine idling and prevent them from stopping traffic, according to Refson.

Despite the benefits, residents living around the suburban area still see disadvantages. The chair of the Cambria Heights Civic Association, Kelli Singleton, spoke at a Community Board 13 meeting about the matter.

“Our civic association is opposed to this request,” she said on behalf of the organization.

In a letter to the Community Board, Singleton stated that the association is opposed due to potential damage to air quality, safety, residents’ welfare and the lack of a traffic study of the area.

As an alternative, the civic association proposes the charter buses drop visitors in the cemetery parking lot, and then proceed to a separate area along the nearby Springfield Boulevard between 121st and 122nd Avenues, where they can park and await pick-up times.

In order to determine the feasibility of this option, Singleton suggested Altman, on behalf of the synagogue, contact the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Debuty Borough Commissioner, Dalila Hall.

Hall said that no proposal has been presented regarding Springfield Boulevard, but that when one is, the request will be processed through the DOT.

Another alternative would be to park in the Montefiore Cemetery lot, close to the synagogue. Montefiore is up for sale, and the parking lot can be repurposed.

Glenn Nielsen, the manager of Montefiore Cemetery, was not approached by anyone about that possibility.

Refson said that the congregation is not necessarily opposed to these ideas, but believes they are impractical compared to the current proposal.

“Knowing the situation on the ground, this is the most practical solution,” he said.

“We’re willing to work with them,” said Singleton of the Orthodox sect. “We understand their need to pray and what have you — that’s not what this is about. We need to act within the law, and not infringe on the residents’ rights at the same time.”

P.S. 176 in Cambria Heights to expand

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

An overcrowded P.S. 176 is set to receive a much-needed and well-deserved expansion.

The Cambria Heights elementary school is currently at 140 percent capacity, but will receive an extra 370 seats thanks to the expansion, fueled by Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott and other local officials.

“I like to see growth and things changing,” said the school’s principal of 10 years, Arlene Bartlett. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

This fall, P.S. 176 has about 820 children, averaging 27 students per class. Bartlett believes this may be due to the population boom that Cambria Heights experienced once housing in the area increased.

“Children need more space,” she said.

The engaged principal has been working with Assemblymember Barbara M. Clark and other local officials, advocating this expansion for nearly 15 years. Now, architectural plans are under way so the students can get the space they need.

Set to begin in September 2013, the expansion will involve an addition to the existing building as part of the DOE’s $11.3 billion capital plan. Occupancy is scheduled for 2016.

“This project is the latest investment we are making to our school facilities so that we can accommodate our students and help them succeed,” said Walcott. Since expansion plans are still in the very early stages, it is not yet clear just how much of the capital plan will be needed to fuel construction.

The well regarded school is said to be known for strong parent engagement and academic programming, along with support for English language learners and students with disabilities. P.S. 176 also offers the local district’s gifted and talened program, along with numerous performing arts and music programs.

Now pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, the expansion will allow the school, along with the talented and gifted program, to add a middle school reaching the eighth grade. Theoretically, the extra space will also allow class sizes to shrink.

“An extension for Public School 176 has been a battle I’ve waged for several years. The real benefactors are the teachers and the students,” said Clark.

More West Nile spraying this week; 2 confirmed cases in Queens

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

With two confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Queens, the borough will receive another round of pesticide spraying this week to help control increasing mosquito populations.

Parts of eight Queens neighborhoods will have pesticide applied from trucks beginning Tuesday, August 21 at 8 p.m. and lasting through 6 a.m. the next morning, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

This is the seventh West Nile spraying in Queens this summer. Seventy pools of standing water have tested positive for the virus in addition to the two confirmed human cases in the borough.

This year has seen the most West Nile cases throughout the country through the first two weeks of August since the disease was first detected in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Parts of Arverne, Bayswater, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Somerville, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Pond Park and Roy Wilkens Park will be sprayed.

The pesticide being used, Anvil 10 + 10, poses no health risks when used properly, but the Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

• Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

• Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.

• Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.

• Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.


Queens communities facing brownouts

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Several Queens communities face a voltage reduction from Con Edison due to electrical equipment problems.

The 100 degree heat has many residents blasting air conditioners to stay cool.

Con Ed said the neighborhoods affected will have a 5 percent voltage reduction.  This was done in an effort to prevent a significant outage, a spokesperson from the company said.

There are about 20 individual  outages in Queens right now according to Con Edison’s outage map.

The reduction will occur in Bellerose, Cambria Heights, Floral Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Hills, Laurelton, Middle Village, Queens Village, South Jamaica, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans.

Con Edison asked customers in these areas to conserve electricity and turn off nonessential electric equipment, such as TVs, computers, air conditioners, washers, dryers, and microwaves.

To report power outages or service problems visit www.conEd.com or call 800-75-CONED (6633). When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.


Synagogue expansion faced with resistance in Cambria Heights

| lguerre@queenscourier.com


Neighbors in Cambria Heights are fighting the proposed expansion of a popular Orthodox Jewish synagogue — citing rude worshipers and an increase in disturbances.

The Ohel Chabad Lubavitch plans to build a structure in its backyard expanding the main building and connecting four nearby houses, which it owns, to create additional space for worship and overnight stays since followers can’t drive home on Sabbath.

Hundreds of congregants visit the synagogue daily to pray and visit the grave of the former leader, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, and his father-in-law Rabbi Yosef Schneerson, which is located in the Montefiore Cemetery adjacent to the buildings. On the anniversary of Schneerson’s passing that number could be over 30,000 visitors, according to Community Board 13 District Manager Lawrence McClean.

There is currently an insulated tent behind the house that connects the four houses and leads to the grave. The plan will expand this and make the structure permanent.

However, residents and community leaders are standing firm against it.

“This is a residential area,” said Ann Miller, who has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years. “Our quality of life is affected.”

Community members like Miller allege that by creating the expanded building the number of congregants will balloon, creating piles of trash and traffic congestion as followers look to park their cars in the blocks surrounding the synagogue.

The community and the synagogue have had a rocky relationship in past years.

McClean said residents have found followers parked in their driveways and scraps of trash on their lawns after services and events.

“The community was so badly trashed in the early days that they have emotional scar tissue,” McClean said.

Residents are concerned that the expansion will amplify problems with an increase in the population and hope the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which has the final say, blocks the synagogue from obtaining a variance to bypass residential zoning rules.

The upcoming public hearing on May 15 will be the fifth time the BSA will meet about the expansion and McClean thinks this is a result of the panel not trusting the plan. “Ninety percent of the time the BSA approves an applicant, but because they’ve spent so much time they are waiting for the Ohel Chabad to work with the community,” McClean said. “The perception is that they have not been working with the community.”

Although many residents are against the expansion, The Courier found a resident living nearby who wasn’t bothered by it.

“I believe that everyone should be able to practice their religion. There are so many churches in this neighborhood alone. To me it’s a welcome change.”

Abba Refson, director of the Ohel Chabad, refused to answer a reporter’s questions, saying, “because the case is pending we don’t want to comment at this time.”


Rockaway Park charter school might close

| mchan@queenscourier.com

The final dismissal bell may soon ring for six underperforming charter schools in the city — including one school in Queens.

According to officials, Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Rockaway Park joins 46 other struggling schools on the list for potential closures released by the Department of Education (DOE) on November 2. Of the 46 schools facing the ax, 24 are elementary and middle schools, 17 are high schools and six are charter schools.

Schools become candidates for the chopping block if they have warranted a failing grade on the most recent progress report or if they’ve received a “C” for three consecutive years. Schools also qualify for closure if they have received a rating of “Underdeveloped” on the most recent Quality Review or if they were identified as “Persistently Lowest Achieving” (PLA) by the State Education Department.

“The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of where weaknesses in their educational strategy lie and why they are struggling,” said Deputy Schools Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “We’ll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options.”

According to DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas, Peninsula Preparatory is being considered for closure for many reasons. He said besides the fact that the charter school’s renewal is coming up this year — which puts the school under close examination — Peninsula Preparatory is not on track to meet set goals. He said the school also has a higher than average teacher turnover rate, which means that teachers are frequently leaving the school after brief terms — causing the school to replace teachers often.

Peninsula Preparatory received a “C” on the last two progress reports.

“We’re following our plan of action to improve student achievement, and we’re doing the best that we can,” said Principal Ericka Wala. “We’ll see how it unfolds. I feel good about the progress we’ve made so far.”

The list of schools put on notice has doubled since September, when 20 public elementary and middle schools in the city were targeted for closure, including two elementary schools in Queens — P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott in Woodmere and P.S. 181 Brookfield in Springfield Gardens.

P.S. 215 in Woodmere received an “F” on the most recent progress report and P.S. 181 in Springfield Gardens received a “D.” The schools each performed one grade worse than they did on last year’s progress report. P.S. 215 received a “D” on last year’s report, while P.S. 181 received a “C.”

Soon after September — following the release of high school progress reports — Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights also found its way to the constantly-expanding list of schools at risk of termination. The school scored the lowest in the borough this year, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. It has received a “D” this year and the last, and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

But according to DOE officials, decisions to close any school have not been made yet.

For the first time, the DOE has instated an “early engagement process” for charter schools in which DOE and school officials remain in “an ongoing conversation and discussion about areas that schools are doing well in and are not doing well in,” Thomas said.

Any decisions on which schools will close will not come until mid-December at the earliest.

“This isn’t a list of schools to close — it’s just a list of schools that are struggling,” Thomas said. “We take a close look at them to see if they can do better in the future. We always know that they can do better.”

Last year’s list included 12 Queens schools — none of which were closed.

Queens schools score on DOE progress reports

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Students at The Academy of Finance and Enterprise spend the last two periods of the day participating in a “virtual enterprise,” trading stocks and being the CEO of their own company.

Queens high schools can hang their good report cards on the fridge.

This year, according to the Department of Education’s (DOE) annual high school progress report, 19 high schools in Queens received the coveted “A” letter grade, and there were no failing schools in the borough.

The annual report awards public high schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance. They also take into account surveys from parents, students and teachers about their schools and the academic progress made with students with disabilities.

New this year, the report measures how many students in each high school perform well in advanced courses and go on to enroll in college, as well as the progress and graduation rates of black and Latino male students.

The Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City scored the highest in the borough with a grade of 89.5 percent. The top scoring grade places the school in the top 98.5 percentile of all surveyed high schools in the city.

“This couldn’t have happened if the teachers, staff and students didn’t come together to make sure they succeed,” said Assistant Principal Victoria Armano. “We are a caring community who treats all our children with respect. We provide them with extra support. We want them to get their diploma and go beyond.”
Student Sylwia Baj is not surprised at her school’s success. The senior said her school has done a good job preparing her for the real world.

“For juniors specifically, the school strives to prepare us for the SATs. There are a lot of extra opportunities for us to get help in school,” she said.
Still, not all schools made the grade.

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights was the lowest scoring school, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. The school received a “D” and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

“It’s not really surprising,” said Malik, a senior who is transferring out of the school. “I feel like the teachers could work a little bit harder with the kids. I don’t think they show us enough attention. They let us do a lot of other stuff in class instead of work. I’m not coming back.”
Students from Humanities and the Arts High School — who share the same Campus Magnet High School building with students from Law and Government — said the score was expected.

“They don’t do any work. They don’t go to class. They stay in the hallway all the time,” said Malcolm, a senior at Humanities and the Arts. “There are also a lot of fights. It’s pretty obvious that it’s not a good school, and once you go to the school, you find out it’s horrible.”
Officials from the high school declined to comment.

Among the other five schools that received a “D” are Flushing High School, Richmond Hill High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village and Pan American International High School in Elmhurst.

According to data from the DOE, of the 54 high schools surveyed this year, 16 high schools in Queens earned a “B” and 13 received a “C.”
For more information or to find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.