BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Looking to take the cream of the high school crop, Maspeth High School is considering adopting new admission criteria, a local parent warned during Monday’s Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association meeting in Elmhurst.
Joann Berger, I.S. 73 PTA president, informed attendees of a plan to convert the high school located at 54-40 74th St. to a limited screened school. The school opened in 2011 as a limited, unscreened community school, with students residing in District 24 given top priority for entry.
According to Berger, school administrators are petitioning the Community Education Council of District 24 (CEC 24) for a change in its enrollment criteria. Under the proposed changes, incoming students would need to meet a new set of criteria, such as higher grade point averages, in order to be accepted into the school.
“If they go screened, that means only those top students will be getting in,” Berger said. “It would be almost like a specialized school without having to take the specialized high school test.”
Berger estimates that Maspeth High School has allocated approximately 300 seats per incoming school year. I.S. 73, which is a mere four blocks away from the high school, has nearly 690 students in their eighth-grade graduating class.
“They won’t even be able to accept half of the students from the school,” she added. “We don’t have enough high school seats within District 24 as it is.”
Maspeth High School first opened as part of the Metropolitan Avenue High School campus back in September 2011. It relocated to its current home in Maspeth the following year.
“This is the third year that they’re in the building, their first year with a graduating class, and they’re already requesting to change it to that new criteria,” Berger said.
According to Berger, representatives from Maspeth High School will make their proposal to the CEC 24 on March 24. Thereafter, the council will then make a recommendation for or against the plan to the Department of Education’s Office of Enrollment.
“The President’s Council and the PTAs in our district are not in favor of this,” she explained. “We are the most overcrowded school district in the city. We wanted a community school that is also a college preparatory school for our children.”
On May 9, CEC 24 will hold an election to fill nine of the 12 slots on the board designated to district parents. Parents of students of District 24 schools from kindergarten through eighth grade interested in seeking a CEC seat must apply online by March 11.
Berger estimates that there are approximately over 57,000 students in District 24. But she said the area known as “COMET-land” (Maspeth, Elmhurst and Woodside) is grossly underrepresented on CEC 24.
“There’s a huge section of our district which encompasses Glendale, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Corona,” Berger explained, “Of the nine members who sit on the CEC, there is nobody representing areas north of Juniper Valley Park. Middle Village and Glendale are the only ones with parents currently sitting on the board right now.”
COMET President Rosemarie Daraio echoed the need for greater representation. “Nobody is representing students from Maspeth, Elmhurst or Winfield,” she said.
CEC members make decisions regarding school zoning issues, school construction and the allocation of capital funding to schools within the district.