Tag Archives: CSA

Some Queens students eligible for up to $1K in scholarships


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A total of up to $9,000 in scholarships is on the table for some community-minded Queens students.

School District 26 scholars, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, have until March 28 to enter a contest to compete for $250 to $1,000 in prizes.

Elementary youngsters are asked to draw pictures of their favorite school activity, while high school students from Benjamin Cardozo, Francis Lewis, Bayside, Queens High School of Teaching and Martin Van Buren write essays, describing inspirational, fictional characters.

“Some of the essays that come in are really moving,” said Mary Vaccaro, the district’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative. “And in the elementary grades, we’ve seen some truly gifted people. We’ve seen some really amazing things.”

This is the eighth year of the contest, headed by the UFT and the (CSA). It is judged by a panel of 30 district parents, teachers and principals.

In the last two years, 1,450 students applied and $15,500 in scholarships were given away, Vaccaro said.

“When this started, we felt we really wanted to be involved in the community,” she said. “We thought it would be a good idea to honor those students who are really trying hard.”

Applications and rules can be found at http://www.uft.org/news/district-26-scholarship-application-available.

Those interested can also call 718-275-4400 for more information.

Checks will be distributed May 22 to winners, during the district’s annual scholarship dinner dance.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

DOE announces Sandy school makeup days


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

After missing a full week of school because of Superstorm Sandy, the city’s public school students will make up those days from February 20-22 and on June 4, the Department of Education (DOE), announced Monday evening.

The first three dates were taken from the five days schools students normally have off for Mid-Winter Recess, and the June date was a scheduled half-day that will now be a full day of classes

“We are pleased that the city, the CSA [Council of School Supervisors and Administrators] and the UFT [United Federation of Teachers] reached an agreement on making up school days lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Teachers, principals and the school community made an extraordinary effort to get our schools back online after the storm, and by working together, we were able to open most schools with minimal disruption. It is just as important that we recover the time lost, and this agreement will provide students with additional class instruction,” a statement released from the DOE, CAS and UFT said.

 

Fresh food push comes to western Queens


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

8-29 FoodBagProgram (RELEASE) (2)

There’s now an oasis in the middle of a Queens food desert.

Residents of the Queensbridge Houses — a neighborhood where fresh produce is scarce — now have the option of purchasing a bag of fruits and vegetables every Wednesday afternoon, just outside their doors.

The push reflects a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, but is different in that payments run week-to-week rather than one full fee at the start of the season.

As part of the plan, initiated by GrowNYC and in connection with the Jacob Riis Settlement Houses, the healthy goods may be purchased on a weekly basis for $10 a bag. The roughly 10 items provided vary depending on the season, but promise seven days’ worth of produce for an individual or a couple who may not have had the option of fresh items before.

“If finding high-quality, fresh produce is unavailable or unaffordable, people are going to eat a lot less of it,” said GrowNYC spokesperson Olivia Blanchflower, who added that high instances of diet-related disease correlates with the lack of available fresh food.

According to Blanchflower, those who reside in the 7,000 Queensbridge-area homes only have immediate access to one supermarket.

A bulk of the items provided come directly from Green Pastures Farm located in eastern Pennsylvania, with additional fruits from New York farms added in by GrowNYC.

While each bag costs $10, Blanchflower said that the contents, when priced out, run between $13 and $18.

In an effort to assist GrowNYC’s initiative, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer allocated $10,000 to the non-profit.

“Access to healthy food options can be difficult for some residents to access in western Queens, especially seniors,” said Van Bramer. “By bringing fresh fruits and vegetables directly into a community that needs and wants them, our initiative is able to address a real need here in Queensbridge.”

Similar projects have been recently introduced in Bedford-Stuyvesant and will soon begin in East Harlem. The Queensbridge program is set to run through November.

UFT sues to prevent school closings


| mchan@queenscourier.com

1 (16)w

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA) are hoping to “turnaround” the city’s decision to close 24 schools in court.

The organizations filed suit today in State Supreme Court, seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction until issues surrounding the Department of Education’s (DOE) Turnaround plan can be resolved through arbitration, UFT officials said.

Under Turnaround, 24 city schools — including seven in Queens — will close at the end of the semester and reopen under a new name in the fall. While non-graduating students at each school will be guaranteed a seat, teachers will have to reapply for their jobs, according to the DOE. If 50 percent of the former teachers reapply, at least that amount will have to be rehired.

“These ‘sham closings’ are an attempt by the DOE to evade its duty to help these struggling schools succeed,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew and CSA President Ernest Logan in a joint statement.

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) — made up of five representatives chosen by the borough presidents and seven others who are selected by Mayor Michael Bloomberg — voted 8-4 to close the schools on April 26.

The mayor’s appointees and the representative from Staten Island — which had no schools on the list — voted for the Turnaround plan, while the other four voted against the measure, according to published reports.

“We are asking the court to ensure that no final decisions are made on the staffing of these schools, pending an independent review by an arbitrator on the issue of whether the DOE is trying to get around its labor agreements,” the statement said.

According to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, preparations have already been made to open the new schools in September, including training leadership teams and holding meetings with the UFT to begin the process of staffing the new schools. He said the lawsuit “could have damaging consequences for that process, jeopardizing the creation of exciting new schools with new programs, teachers and leadership structures.”

“The UFT and CSA have shown that they would rather leave our students’ futures to the courts than do the difficult work of turning around failing schools and giving students the education they deserve,” Walcott said in a statement. “Our strategy of replacing failing schools has led to major gains in achievement and graduation rates, and we pledge to extend that progress no matter what special interest groups try to obstruct it.”

The seven closing Queens schools are August Martin, Bryant, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown and Richmond Hill High School. They were all on the state’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools, and were receiving federal Race to the Top funding before negotiations broke down between the city and the UFT on an evaluation system.

By instituting the Turnaround model — a program which does not require teacher evaluations — the city will be eligible to apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state.

According to UFT and CSA officials, unless the DOE agrees that it has improperly identified the 24 schools, the issue will go before an independent arbitrator.