Tag Archives: District 26

Bayside Jewish Center to be converted to high school


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

The School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to purchase the Bayside Jewish Center and transform it into a new public high school, according to Councilman Paul Vallone.

The new school will go a long way toward solving the issue of overcrowding in District 26 schools, which are at 130 percent capacity and currently short more than 3,400 seats. The new school is set to alleviate around 25 percent of that gap.

Vallone said that he is going to work with residents to lessen the impact that a new school would have on their everyday lives, including potential effects on parking availability and local traffic concerns.

“What is critical now is making sure that the community and community board are involved in every step of the way and that we work closely with the SCA to minimize the impact to the surrounding neighborhood,” Vallone said.

The SCA has stated that an Environmental Impact Study will soon begin at the site. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an Environmental Impact Study is done to assess significant environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment.

A public review process will be conducted after the study is completed, and then it will come to a vote before the entire City Council.

The Bayside Jewish Center has been at its current location at 32nd Avenue since 1960 and has seen the number of members in its congregation sharply drop in recent years. The center had an estimated congregation of 150 people in 2012 from 250 families a little over a decade before.

The proportion of Jewish households in northeast Queens plummeted by half from 1991 to 2001, from 44 percent of the population down to 22 percent a decade later, according to the UJA-Federation of New York’s Jewish Community Study.

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Participatory budgeting extends to more Queens council districts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photos

Residents in nine Queens City Council districts will be given the power this year to decide where and how their tax dollars will be spent in their communities.

Last spring, community members in three Queens council districts – Councilman Mark Weprin’s District 23, Councilman Donovan Richard’s District 31 and Councilman Eric Ulrich’s District 32 – were given the opportunity to vote on community projects that would benefit from one million dollars of each council member’s capital discretionary funds.

This year joining those three districts are six new Queens council districts including Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ District 21, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s District 29, Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s District 27, Councilman Paul Vallone’s District 19, Councilman Costa Constantinides’ District 22 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s District 26.

The overall process begins in the fall when residents suggest ideas and choose budget delegates during public meetings. Those volunteers then develop proposals based on the suggestions which are presented to the public before the voting occurs.

Voting this year will take place between April 11 and April 19 and each voter, ages 16 and up, can chose up to five projects. A total of 24 council members throughout the city are participating in this year’s voting.

“Participatory budgeting has been rewarding for our entire district. This entire process has featured ideas generated by members of the community,” Constantinides said. “It has provided an opportunity for residents to become engaged with the civic process through events and meeting. Everyone has shared their common love of their neighborhood and become more interconnected.”

Projects being voted on in Constantinides’ district include renovations at local schools, such as sound proofing P.S. 122’s cafeteria, redesigning the streetscape on Newtown Avenue between 32nd and 22rd streets to construct a pedestrian plaza, turning unused lots into dog runs in Astoria and Jackson Heights, and renovating the basketball court at the Astoria Houses.

In Councilman Miller’s district, residents will be able to vote on 23 projects which include improvements at local parks, technology upgrades at schools and enhancing cultural facilities such as upgrading the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.

The $1 million in projects that residents in District 19 can vote on include creating a $400,000 state-of-the-art music studio at Bayside High School, funding three NYPD security cameras, and installing real time passenger countdown clocks along the Q12 and Q13 bus routes.

“With a wide range of voting locations throughout northeast Queens, we encourage and hope to see everyone come out and vote for the projects that they believe will have the best impact on the community,” Vallone said.

In District 23, voters can choose projects such as upgrades to the Queens Village and North Hills libraries, fitness equipment at Alley Pond Park, technology upgrades at local schools and portable security cameras at three sites.

Residents in Councilman Ulrich’s district that encompasses Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park can vote on projects such as renovating the Forest Park Dog Park, refurbishing the 9/11 memorial in Forest Park and installing emergency call boxes in Forest Park. For residents living in the councilman’s district in the Rockaway peninsula, projects include a $500,000 repair of center medians along Cross Bay Boulevard, upgrades to local schools, and the construction of a rock climbing wall in Rockaway Beach adjacent to the new boardwalk.

For more information on the projects and where to vote, click here.

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Community project ideas on display at Sunnyside participatory budgeting expo


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents in the 26th City Council District got the chance to view project proposals that will be put to a public vote later this month during Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting (PB) project expo Monday night at Sunnyside Community Services.

“This is a chance for residents of this district to really get a visual of the projects that are going to be on the ballot a week from now,” explained Amanda Nasner, PB delegate and Special Projects representative from Van Bramer’s office. “This is just a good visual to help people get excited about participatory budgeting.”

Van Bramer is one of 24 City Council members who have each allocated $1 million in discretionary funds for public improvement projects aimed at helping the community. Budget delegates from District 26—which encompasses all or parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside—showcased their project ideas through vibrant displays and posters.

Many of the project proposals called for improvements to the district’s schools. Jennifer Munoz, a sophomore at the Academy of American Studies, advocated for much-needed auditorium repairs at Newcomers High School in Dutch Kills. At 15, Munoz is one of the youngest budget delegates in the district.

According to Munoz, the Academy of American Studies and Newcomers High School share the same auditorium. The project would replace the auditorium seating and upgrade the sound system at a projected cost of $250,000.

“Basically, the auditorium is being used a lot, so we need to fix it up,” Munoz explained. “They have broken chairs, so we’re trying to get them fixed.”

Other proposed school improvement projects include the installation of security cameras outside Bryant High School, resurfacing the P.S. 112 playground, and a series of technology upgrades at P.S./I.S. 78, P.S. 11, I.S. 204, P.S. 166, P.S. 12 and Aviation High School.

Woodside resident Tom Ryan and his daughter Katherine spoke in favor of the Woodside Reforestry project, which would fund the planting of Parks Department-approved trees along both sides of Broadway, from 48th Street to 69th Street, at a cost of $200,000.

“There are no trees there. It’s barren,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, both he and his fellow Northern Woodside Coalition members would assume the responsibility of watering and caring for the trees.

Miki Bairstow, a delegate from the Housing Committee, was on hand to advocate for six project ideas, including the installation of security cameras and playground upgrades at the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Woodside Houses.

Kenny Medrano presented four project proposals on behalf of the Library Committee, including the installation of ADA-compliant push-button access for handicapped and wheelchair-bound patrons at both the Sunnyside and Woodside public library branches.

Several delegates proposed transportation improvements throughout the district. Nancy Silverman spoke in favor of a $55,000 proposal to provide seniors at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge with a 10-passenger van for day trips and various group outings. Ray Johnson and his fellow Transportation Committee delegates advocated for the $500,000 LIC Bikeway, the installation of bus bulbs at 31st Street and five real-time passenger information countdown clocks at bus stops district-wide.

Residents will vote for their favorite projects between April 11 to 19 at various locations throughout the district. Click here for details.

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Local leaders applaud city’s call to save Gifted & Talented seats


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Local leaders are hailing the city’s decision to allow all District 26 elementary school students enrolled in Gifted & Talented (G&T) programs to be grandfathered into middle school programs.

“There is no more important issue in our community than the education of our students,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “The new policy reflects the children and parents in District 26 and will allow families to focus on getting their children off to a strong start in middle school.”

Parents were outraged when they learned students would no longer be automatically accepted into their local middle school G&T programs.

Fifth grade students would have to submit applications and seek admission to middle school G&T programs based on their fourth grade New York State ELA and math scores, the Department of Education (DOE) previously said.

More than 750 people signed an online petition, protesting the abrupt change.

“The Gifted and Talented programs in our schools are vitally important to the education of our students,” said Congressmember Grace Meng. “After listening closely to the needs of parents, the community, and elected officials, I applaud the Department of Education for its decision to add more G&T seats in District 26 as well as allow current students through fifth grade to remain in the program.”

According to Councilmember Mark Weprin, the DOE will also create more middle school G&T programs for high-performing general education students.

“With the opening of additional classes for incoming students who qualify for the program, the agreement is good news for parents across the district,” he said.

 

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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.

 

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Poor performance could mean final bell for city schools


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

It could be final bell for 217 city schools whose progress reports showed dismal grades.

The progress reports include “A” through “F” grades of 1,193 elementary and middle schools. The schools who scored a “D” or an “F,” or no higher than a “C” for three years, could be on the chopping block, with this year’s citywide number up roughly 120 from last year, as reported by the Daily News.

The Daily News also reported that DOE officials said they would consider closing a fraction of the schools, but did not say which those would be.

Despite the drop in marks, Queens emerged as the highest performing borough, with District 26 coming out as the highest performing district.

According to a DOE statement, all grades are based on measurements of student progress, performance, attendance and feedback from students, teachers and parents about their schools. This year, the standards have expanded and coursework has become more demanding so as to build a more solid foundation for students who continue to higher education.

“This year, our students are engaging in more challenging coursework,” said Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky.

Elementary and middle school curriculum now has higher standards, including good performance in critical thinking, defending arguments and executing experiments. Middle school progress reports in particular now measure the percentage of students with a passing grade in core courses. These measures have been implemented in order to create greater accountability for how well city schools are preparing students for future success.

“Our elementary and middle schools build on the foundation of early learning to set our students on a path for college and career readiness,” said DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Bayside school P.S. 46 leads district in progress reports


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Janet Elias. First grade teacher Mrs. Schwartz (left) and Assistant Principal Mrs. Karalazarides (right) pose with students.

Another “A” is in the bag for P.S. 46.

According to progress reports released by the Department of Education (DOE), the Alley Pond School in Bayside received another “A” this year, making it the number one school in the leading district in Queens.

District 26 — which P.S. 46 falls under — was the highest academically performing district in the borough, according to the report. Serving the northeast area, the district covers Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest and parts of both Hollis Hills and Holliswood.

The annual progress reports award public schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress and performance, attendance and school environment. They also take into account academic progress made with students with disabilities and, new this year, the progress of black and Latino male students.

“I’m really happy. We’re very proud of all the hard work by the administration, the teachers, school staff, parents and students. It’s a very good feeling,” said Principal Marsha Goldberg.

The straight-A school scored an overall total of 83.7 percent, placing it in the top 98th percentile in the city. Not only is the school a top contender in the borough, it ranked 16th citywide out of 1,148 elementary and middle schools.

“It just validates that we’re on the right track. We’re doing what we think is right, and it appears to be working,” said Goldberg, who celebrates her 10th anniversary as principal this year.

The school has maintained its good standing and a straight-A rating since the grading system began in 2007.

But what really sets the school apart from others is its strength and background in special education. Goldberg previously served as the District 26 supervisor for special education.

P.S. 46 was one of the first schools in the district to have “inclusion” classes, and it currently accommodates a substantial special education population. In those classes, children receiving special education services are integrated into regular classes with two teachers and two aides working together.

In addition to a gymnasium, library and auditorium with a wheel-chair accessible stage, the school has an entire corridor dedicated to support services for those with special needs — including an elevator and a physical therapy room filled with professional-grade equipment.

Overall, Goldberg said the school’s success lies in working hard and working together.

“It really comes from having an open door policy and working side by side with the school community,” she said. “We’re really supportive of each other.”

Queens schools get great report card


| rcasiano@queenscourier.com

Students in Queens may have a leg up when it comes to learning.

According to a progress report by the Department of Education (DOE), public schools in Queens were ranked the best in the city.

Queens had the highest percentage of schools in New York that received an “A” in the 2011 progress reports released by the DOE. The best performing school district in the city was also in Queens, the report found.

The annual progress reports award public schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress and performance, attendance and school environment. They also take into account academic progress made with students with disabilities and, new this year, the progress of black and Latino male students.

Out of the 253 schools in Queens serving grades K-8, 34 percent got an “A.” That is higher than all the other boroughs and closest to Manhattan, which had 30 percent of their K-8 schools get an “A.” District 26, which serves northeast Queens, was the best performing district academically, according to the report.

Still, not all schools in Queens were winners.

P.S. 215 in Far Rockaway, P.S. 80 in Jamaica and P.S. 182, also in Jamaica, were among the 13 schools in the borough that received grades of “C”s, “D”s, or “F”s.

For the schools that did fare well however, there was a lot to celebrate.

Phyllis Leinwand is the principal at P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill, one of the highest performing public schools in Queens, according to the report. Leinwand attributes the school’s success to their connections with parents, individualized instruction and working with students in groups.

“Small is the key,” said Leinwand, who has led the school for 11 years and was happy with the good news. “I am very proud of the results. They reflect the hard work of teachers, parents, children and the school community.”

The school grades only include elementary and middle public schools. Public high schools get their separate progress reports at the end of October, according to a spokesman for the DOE.

Graphic:

Top Schools Grades

P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill…………………..A

P.S. 254 in Richmond Hill……………….A

Worst Schools:

P.S. 215 in Far Rockaway…………………F

P.S. 80 in Jamaica………………………………F