Tag Archives: co-locations

Op-ed: Co-location: What’s the rush?


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER DAVID WEPRIN

Late last month the Department of Education’s Panel on Educational Policy voted on all co-location proposals. Martin Van Buren High, I.S. 59, August Martin High School, P.S. 40, J.H.S. 226, M.S. 72 and the Corona Arts and Sciences are the schools facing co-location in Queens.

The Department of Education called off its plans to co-locate a new elementary school in the building of P.S. 1 after parents, teachers and elected official spoke out against the proposal. At the Martin Van Buren High School co-location hearing, State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Mark Weprin and I along with the parents, teachers, civic leaders, students and community members urged the Department of Education to hold off on their plans to co-locate a new school in the building. However, the Department of Education has ignored our request to meet with them and is instead pushing through with their proposal.

My biggest question is “what’s the rush?”

One of the first issues that needs to be addressed with the proposed co-location at Martin Van Buren High School is the lack of transparency in the process and the reasons the Department of Education is rushing to put in the second school. It seems the Bloomberg administration is rushing these co-locations before the next administration takes office.

The problem lies in that there is a clear disconnect between the Department of Education and the community. Parents, teachers, community leaders and students have only been consulted after the Department of Education issued its proposals. Parents and community members deserve to be informed and have greater involvement in the school’s decision-making process. I call for a more comprehensive and community-based plan in which all members of the community that are impacted by the change are able to be involved in the school Turnaround process. All of the schools dealing with the issue of co-location need to be thoroughly examined to determine if co-locating the school is the best plan for the school to thrive.

The proposed co-location would eliminate 500 seats at Martin Van Buren High School and create a new six-year school that would give students the option to earn two-year degrees from Queensborough Community College. There is no reason why Martin Van Buren High School can’t have this program integrated into the school’s curriculum.

If not well planned, having an additional school in the building can become a costly project that disrupts student learning and limits access to resources and school facilities. Often when schools undergo co-location, one of the schools receives preferential treatment. The issues that can arise from co-location are overcrowding, unsafe hallways, inadequate resources and tensions over sharing space and equipment with the other school in the building. The schools often have to compete for the use of shared areas such as cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums, playgrounds and hallways. The co-located school will take away essential resources from the traditional school, depriving students of school equipment and other resources.

We have seen far too many schools in experience co-location, resulting in underfunded programs, overcrowding classes, and ultimately a spiral of academic decline. Instead of co-locating struggling schools, let’s first discuss the option with the community and invest our time and resources into turning the school around. Martin Van Buren High School is one of the few community comprehensive high schools that provide real choices, with an exciting curriculum for students and the Queensborough Community College partnership program can be incorporated into the school. The students of our city deserve to be provided the best education possible and parents should have the choice for their child to attend one of the last comprehensive high schools in Queens.

Assemblymember David Weprin was elected in a Special Election in 2010. Weprin represents the same district represented by his father, the late Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, for 23 years and his brother Mark Weprin, for over 15 years.

 

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More speak out against plans to put new school inside Martin Van Buren


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

More opponents have stepped up to fight the city and its plans to put an early college inside Martin Van Buren High School.

“We’re finally climbing out of this rut we were dug into by the DOE,” said junior Sharon Kaur. “Our voices should be heard.”

About 40 speakers signed up at an October 23 public hearing to discuss the six-year Early College and Career Technical Education (CTE) High School program proposed inside the struggling Queens Village school.

Most were teachers and students against the Department of Education’s (DOE) plans.

“There’s no room intellectually and physically for another school,” said Frank Suriano, a social studies teacher. “It’s total nonsense. It’s got to stop.”

But some, including leaders from nine of the largest civic associations in eastern Queens, supported plans they say would “fast track” positive changes.

The new school is modeled after a P-Tech design that has been lauded by President Barack Obama. It would give students a chance to get a free Queensborough Community College associate’s degree while in high school, education officials said.

The early college would also focus on computer science and business technology and give students “real-world work experience” through internships, according to the DOE.

“Across the city, we’ve transformed the landscape with our new school options — and we’ve been nationally recognized by President Obama for our visionary offerings,” said DOE spokesperson Harry Hartfield.

However, Sanjay Patel, director of specialized programs at Van Buren, said the school already has CUNY partnerships and college-ready science programs in the engineering, pre-med, law, forensics and computer technology fields.

“This is a huge step forward toward the transformation and rise of our school,” he said.

Students in the early college program would also have to complete internships and take off-site classes at QCC, Patel and city officials said.

“We have ours right here,” Patel said. “I want the CTE to see what we’re doing.”

The new school would open next fall if the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) approves the plans October 30.

 

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LIC High School students voice opposition to co-location


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Above photo by Angy Altamirano/Building photo by Rosa Kim

These bulldogs are not ready to go down without a fight.

School officials, students, community members and local elected officials gathered in the auditorium of Long Island City High School, home of the Bulldogs and referred to as “LIC,” on October 23 during a public hearing to voice their opposition to the Department of Education’s (DOE) proposal to co-locate a new school within the building.

The DOE’s Panel for Education Policy is expected to vote on the proposal that would open a new Career and Technical (CTE) high school in the 14-30 Broadway building by September 2014.

Students, with faces painted with the school’s colors and holding signs that read “We are LIC, One team, One Family,” rallied against the co-location before heading into the hearing.

“I consider LIC my home away from home,” said Irving Torres, LIC High School senior and student member of District 30’s Community Education Council (CEC). “I will not stand by as I watch my home be attacked by this proposal.”

If the proposal is approved, students of LIC High School and P.S. 993, a special needs District 75 school currently located in the building, would have to share their space with the new school. Students fear this will bring cuts to their beloved AP courses and extracurricular activities.

In order to make room for the incoming ninth grade class, the DOE will make enrollment cuts at LIC High School beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

The high school, which currently has 2,524 enrollees, will have around 2,000 students by the 2017-2018 school year.

“They have yet to tell us who besides the chancellor and the mayor want this,” said Ken Achiron, a teacher at LIC High School for 25 years and chapter leader for the United Federation of Teachers. “The reality is it’s some children first, certain children always, but LIC children never.”

In the proposal, the DOE said the school has received an overall “C” grade for three consecutive years on its progress reports and enrollment cuts are only in response to what has already been occurring at the school for years through diminishing student sign up. However, those opposed said the new principal, Vivian Selenikas, has been taking the school on the right path to success and the co-location would only take away from the school’s achievements.

“I’m not going to let them take away my school,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who graduated from LIC High School in 1986. “The last thing we need is a new school dropped in here that no one has asked for.”

The high school was in danger of closing last year when officials put it on a Turnaround list alongside Flushing High School and 22 other city schools.

“It seems to me that every time our school achieves success, the DOE finds a way to combat it,” said Divya Ramdath, president of LIC High School’s student organization. “LIC has a future, only if the DOE allowed it.”

The DOE did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

 

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Students, lawmakers rally against Martin Van Buren High School co-location


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens lawmakers and dozens of students carrying picket signs rallied last week against the city’s plans to put another school inside the storied yet struggling Martin Van Buren High School.

“We’ve been fighting so hard,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but in the dead of night, in secret, they put a colocation in the school.”

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) has proposed adding a new early college within the Queens Village school to serve grades nine to 14.

Education officials said the Early College and Career Technical Education High School would give students a chance to get a free associate’s degree while in high school.

It would focus on computer science and business technology and give students “real-world work experience” through internships and focus on career readiness, the DOE said.

But students are unwilling to share the already congested 230-17 Hillside Avenue building.

“It’s already crowded as it is,” said Gaitree Boojraj, 16, the school’s junior president. “We don’t need more people in this school.”

The new school would also undo progress Van Buren has made since Principal Sam Sochet took over last June, said Queens legislators, who held another rally in July.

“[Sochet’s] been turning the school around,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “The students are getting the type of education they need. Then, we get a knife in the back. We’re not accepting this. We are not going to let this happen. We’re going to fight until the bitter end.”

Van Buren has improved a full letter grade from a “D” to a “C” under its new leadership, the latest city progress report shows.

“It’s not about one person. It’s about an entire community,” said James Vasquez, the UFT district representative for Queens high schools.

But the community seems to be split.

Leaders from nine of the largest civic associations in eastern Queens, representing thousands zoned to Van Buren, said they supported co-location plans that would “fast track” positive changes.

The early college would “be the catalyst needed” to restore Van Buren’s prior high academic standards, said Mike Castellano, president of Lost Community Civic Association.

More than a decade of decline, the group said, is too much for one principal to quickly fix.

The school would also give its graduating students two years of tuition-free education at Queensborough Community College, the civic leaders said.

“This is a win-win for students, parents and the community, and a huge attraction that will finally begin to raise the four percent local community participation rate,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village. “This is a blueprint for success.”

The city will hold a public hearing Wednesday to discuss the plans at the school at 6 p.m.

 

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Parents, pols fight Queens co-locations


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

Parents and pols aren’t ready for their schools to squeeze into one building.

Twenty-three co-locations have been proposed within the next four years for schools in Queens, 10 of those in the southeast community.

The Department of Education (DOE) is proposing Q297 join J.H.S 226; and P.S. 233, New Transfer High School join August Martin High School and later add a Success Academy elementary charter school.

Parent Takia Moore said she chose J.H.S. 226 for her daughter because it stood alone without a high school, and was “under the impression that my child would be free from the peer pressure of older high school students,” she said.

“Once again, the administration has proposed a plan without taking into consideration the consequences it will have for Queens’ youth,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “The proposed co-locations will force these schools to share even more resources while the standards they are required to meet continue to rise.”

Proposals also exist to truncate P.S. 174 to a kindergarten through fifth grade school; join new middle school Q287 with J.H.S. 008 and York Early College Academy; and co-locate J.H.S. 72 and P.S. 993.

“Forcing more schools into a single building is not the solution,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards. “When more students are squeezed into fewer classrooms, some children get left behind.”

Success Academy Charter School additionally hopes to co-locate with I.S. 59 and P.S. 176, and there are plans to co-locate five magnet high schools in District 29.

“The Bloomberg Administration’s tone-deafness is on full display in Queens,” said Melinda Katz, Borough President candidate. “By starving, co-locating, and closing public schools in low-income neighborhoods just to cozy up to the charter school lobby, this administration is hurting our students and robbing our city of talent we will need in the next generation of workers and leaders.”

For more information on proposed co-locations within the borough, click here. Hearings will be held for all individual proposals. Dates can also be found on the DOE website.

“We need an immediate freeze on co-locations, until a new mayoral administration takes the reins and reevaluates the long-term effectiveness of the policy,” Katz said.

 

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