Tag Archives: District 30

Incumbent Elizabeth Crowley comes out on top after tough challenge


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley will return to the City Council after overcoming a stiff challenge from candidate Craig Caruana.

The councilmember celebrated the win with supporters and family members at her victory party at Woodhaven House in Middle Village, after the race initially seemed close.

“This has been a long campaign, but the people of the 30th council district have spoken tonight,” Crowley said, “and guess what? They want to send me back to city hall.”

Crowley won nearly 59 percent of the vote, according to early polling numbers, while Caruana took about 41 percent, a gap of approximately 3,000 votes.

Crowley has served District 30, which encompasses Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside for nearly four years, tackling issues from education, traffic and preventing firehouse closures.

The race against Caruana was initially one sided in the incumbent’s favor, but following an endorsement from mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a feisty debate, Caruana, a political newbie, gained some traction.

“[Caruana] ran a good campaign,” Crowley said. “ I think that when you have a challenge it makes you work harder.”

Early results from polling sites showed Crowley only leading by about five percent, but that number gradually started to expand. Now with the election behind her she plans to get back on track with key issues.

“I want to improve transportation,” Crowley said. “Queens is growing and so is the 30th council district.”

Caruana, who was confident he could unseat Crowley, conceded and talked to his supporters at Collony’s Corner in Maspeth.

“There are serious losses that you take in life and this isn’t one of them,” he said. “If you expend yourself in fighting for something that you really believe in and you expend yourself sometimes in struggle, especially what you put your heart into, you can’t lose.”

 

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Department of Education: Gifted and talented classes will stay


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


The Department of Education (DOE) has decided to withdraw its controversial plan to cut the gifted and talented classes at P.S. 122. after last week’s meeting with concerned parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30.

“We’ve listened, and we know what an exceptional job P.S. 122 is doing with its G&T middle school students,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “We’re going to take more time to think through the challenge, consider ways to ensure equity and excellence for all families, and re-engage with the community in the future.”

Since the announcement of the plan in February, members of District 30 and local officials have protested against the idea to reduce the classes at The Academy, a prestigious middle school gifted and talented program, in order to expand

P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade.

“I am thrilled that the exemplary academic program at P.S. 122 will be preserved moving forward,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “P.S. 122 is a gem in our community that should be allowed to continue improving the lives of the children and parents of Astoria for years to come.”

Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent who now sees a brighter future for her son and daughter, is excited to work with the DOE and discuss any upcoming proposed changes.

“It was truly amazing to see people from every corner of District 30 to come together for a common cause and it worked and it gives me a lot of hope going forward,” said Alexander.

Alexander hopes their victory will give hope to other communities going through similar circumstances and who might feel like they are in a David and Goliath situation.

“Sometimes David does win,” said Alexander.

 

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Schools Chancellor Walcott meets with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ana Musmat Alam

True to his word, Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30 to talk about the proposed cuts to the prestigious gifted and talented program at P.S. 122.

“When families have a great experience in their school, we celebrate that and we appreciate the thoughtful way that parents at P.S. 122 approached this proposal,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

The meeting came after the concerned and outraged community members confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy in Brooklyn on March 20, where he agreed to meet with them at a later date.

For over a month, the members have been getting together to speak out against the DOE’s plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade at the expense of fewer classes for the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“We are feeling optimistic that the DOE has heard that the District 30 community has not asked for and does not want a change to our balances and harmonious district structure,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent. “At the end of it, we feel like we could not have laid our case out any better. Logic should dictate what they do now.”

According to Alexander, although Walcott did not say much at the meeting, he was apologetic in not contacting the community earlier, applauded the community’s advocacy and said he would get back to them within a week with some answers.

“The Chancellor listens – he did that at his meeting with P.S. 122 parents, as he does with school communities across the city. We will incorporate the feedback we received, and will ultimately make a decision that best balances equity and excellence for students in this district,” said Puglia.

Alexander hopes a decision will be made by April 17, when parents have to submit their ranking for gifted and talented schools for their children.

“Fix the rule, don’t fix the school,” said Alexander.

 

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Schools Chancellor Walcott to meet with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Isaac Carmignani

After weeks protesting proposed cuts to the gifted and talented program at P.S. 122, the voices of the parents in District 30 have finally been heard by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The parents, along with other concerned and outraged school and community members, confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy meeting in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, March 20, where the chancellor agreed to meet with them at a later date to go over the changes.

“We are feeling cautiously optimistic, given the chancellor’s previous thoughtful interactions with parents from District 30,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent whose son, Augustus, is set to attend the prestigious program in middle school. “A united community can really make a change.”

The group of District 30 parents has been getting together for over a month to speak against the Department of Education’s (DOE) plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from the fifth to eighth grade, cutting down classes at the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“It’s just the first step, but we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished and thrilled that the chancellor listened and heard us,” said Alexander.

In order to extend P.S. 122 into the eighth grade, by 2019 there will be room for only one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now. These changes would go into effect in 2019 and would begin with this fall’s incoming kindergarten class.

The DOE has stated that the changes are required in order to allow each student the chance to stay in the same K-8 until they finish middle school.

The meeting between parents and the chancellor was confirmed by DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia, yet no date has been set.

“Chancellor Walcott and his team are very responsive and listen closely to feedback from families. We look forward to meeting with this community once again and articulating our rationale for this plan: equity and fairness for all students,” said Puglia in a statement.

Yet, worried the meeting will not bring negotiations, as the parents wait for the date to be announced they will be filing a petition with the State Education Commissioner.

“The day we can withdraw that petition because the DOE has heard the unified voice of District 30 will be a joyful day,” said Alexander.

 

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New schools to ease overcrowding in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of SCA

Two new schools will help alleviate overcrowding in Jackson Heights and Corona in the next two years, according to the School Construction Authority (SCA).

The first school, P.S. 287, is scheduled to debut this September at 110-08 Northern Boulevard in Corona. Located in District 24, the four-story building will serve pre-K through fifth grade and have a 420 student capacity, said the SCA.

I.S. 297 will be completed by September 2014 at 33-55 74th Street in Jackson Heights as part of District 30. The school is expected to have four floors, serve sixth through eighth grade and have a 400 student capacity.

“These two new schools, together with the ground we broke on the addition to P.S. 70, will go a long way towards easing overcrowding in western Queens schools. But, there is still more work to be done,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr.

District 30 has been in need of more schools to keep up with a growing population, school leaders said.

“The more crowded it is, the harder it is to get things done, even with parents picking their kids up,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the District 30 Community Education Council. “Anytime we get seats, anytime we get schools, it’s good for us. We’re grateful for anything that we are given.”

Overcrowding has also been a problem in District 24 as school construction failed to keep up with the growing population of families, especially new immigrants looking to make the neighborhoods in the district their home, according to InsideSchools.org.

“I have been in constant contact with the Department of Education to ensure that a comprehensive plan is established to address the overcrowding in my district,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.

Last March, the department announced it would add 6,000 new school seats over the next two years in order to ease overcrowding in the borough.

According to the SCA, along with the brand-new school buildings, P.S. 287 will have two playgrounds at the back of the school. I.S. 297’s playground will be located on land purchased by the city across the street from the school.

 

I.S. 297 rendering 

 

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PCB leak in LIC school scares staff, parents


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

DSC_2315w

A mysterious liquid dripping from a light fixture at a Long Island City middle school alarmed staff and faculty members who discovered the substance was the potentially toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).

The head custodian at I.S. 204 spotted the brown fluid trickling off a fixture in a guidance counselor’s office around 2:45 p.m. on Monday, September 10. The room was promptly sealed and a worker from Triumvirate Environmental, a Department of Education (DOE) contracted company, was dispatched to the facility.

According to Jeff Guyton, co-president of Community Education Council District 30, no students were in the area of the leak and because it was discovered early in the school year, students most likely had yet to meet with a guidance counselor in that room.

Previously used as coolant in electrical transformers and certain lighting fixtures, PCB was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1979. It may still be present in commonly used products, such as flourescent light ballasts, manufactured before the ban.

The DOE recently entered the second year of its decade-long plan to remove and replace all lighting fixtures throughout the city’s 700 school buildings. According to a spokesperson from the DOE, all schools have lighting fixtures with PCB ballasts. The representative said the agency’s plan is “unprecedented compared to other cities,” adding that PCB-infused fixtures are a nationwide issue.

The 10-year plan includes comprehensive energy audits and retrofits, replacing the dangerous fixtures with energy-efficient, PCB-free lights.

“We as a council want to make sure that we’re bumped up dramatically on the priority list,” said Guyton. “If there’s one that’s faulty, that means they’re at the end of their useful life. If one is corroded that means others are too.”

According to the DOE, confirmed leaks are investigated within 48 hours of discovery.

“Everyone needs to work as if their own child is in that school,” Guyton said. “I would be very upset if my kid was in that school — I would be livid. Everyone including the chancellor and construction agency needs to work with that urgency.”

The principal of I.S. 204 could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Rezoning would help class size in District 30


| aaltman@queenscourier.com


The Department of Education (DOE) is “zoning in” on overcrowding.

The DOE is rezoning School District 30, expanding the capacity of local elementary schools to alleviate severe overcrowding. The extension will incorporate Q329, a new K-5 elementary school, set to open with three kindergarten sections in September 2013.

The new school, located at 26-25 97th Street in East Elmhurst, will serve elementary school students residing in the East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights areas of the district.

The updated school district, carved from a portion of P.S./I.S. 127’s current zone, will also impact P.S. 228, P.S. 149 and P.S. 148. According to the DOE, the four schools impacted by rezoning are an average of 200 kids over capacity.

No schools will be removed from the district and only incoming kindergartners and students new to the school system will be moed into a different school, according to the DOE.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras believes rezoning is a major step in providing area children the education they deserve, which doesn’t involve 10 a.m. lunch times and classes taught in overflowing rooms.

“How do we move forward when our classrooms are beyond what any teachers is asked to teach safely in,” asked Ferreras. “I’m very excited and looking forward to see the groundbreaking for the four new schools that are going to be built in the area. Changing the lines ever so slightly makes a huge impact for so many families.”

If approved by the Community Education Council (CEC), the rezoning would be implemented during the 2013-2014 school year.

More middle school seats coming to Jackson Heights


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Alex Florez

Students corralled in overcrowded classrooms may soon be able to stretch their legs while exercising their minds.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Borough President Helen Marshall celebrated breaking ground on I.S. 297Q — a new middle school, expected to open in the fall of 2014 in Jackson Heights — at a ceremony on Tuesday, August 7.

The school, which will house sixth through eighth grades, will add 400 seats to District 30 in an effort to alleviate severe crowding. The new four-story building will boast central air, 12 standard classrooms and administration offices, as well as a special education building and specialized accommodations for science, music, art and physical education courses.

Dromm, a former public school teacher for more than 25 years, emphasized the demand for adequately sized classes.

“Smaller class sizes allow teachers to cater to individual student needs,” said Dromm. “I.S. 297 and other new schools are a necessary investment in the future of our students and I will continue fighting to see more neighborhood schools in Jackson Heights.”

According to a spokesperson from Dromm’s office, 1,350 seats were added to district schools, including 600 elementary positions, when P.S. 280 opened in 2010. An additional 350 seats were created when a new wing was added to P.S. 13 in LeFrak City.

“We are thrilled with the additional classrooms because our middle schools are very overcrowded at this point in time,” said Jackson Heights Beautification Group President Ed Westley. “We need more but this is a welcomed start.”