Tag Archives: DOE

Benjamin Cardozo High School students protest cuts to classes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Scholars at Benjamin Cardozo High School are up in arms over an apparent $400,000 slash to programs cutting into the school’s Advanced Placement courses.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said senior Student Organization President Tom Dinegar. “We should not have to settle for less.”

Students and local leaders said internal bookkeeping errors by the city’s Department of Education (DOE) caused the deep cuts to gym periods and double-period AP science and math classes.

“DOE made an error, and now thousands of students are left in the lurch in the middle of the school year,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “By cutting funds to the school, DOE is unfairly punishing the students for its own mistakes.”

Nearly 300 students packed the athletic field on October 2 to protest the changes. They chanted behind the fence and waved signs that read “Save Our School.”

“These are the classes that make Cardozo what it is,” Dinegar said. “It’s definitely going to affect grades on AP exams, and we’re not a failing school.”

The change in course offerings was due to “an unforeseen decrease in projected student enrollment” of 15 students, according to the DOE and a letter Principal Gerald Martori sent to parents this week.

Martori said second period classes in double periods “will be conducted in a blended learning model” and will be “devoted to student research, problem solving and portfolio development.”

Without a teacher behind the helm, students say that essentially means a free period to study independently. But the rigorous college-level courses, they say, require back-to-back 45 minute instructions from a qualified teacher.

“We’ll have less time to learn review material and have a hard time passing the test,” said junior Hannah Oh. “It’s already hard with two period classes.”

Some gym classes were also decreased to two to three days a week, according to the letter. The changes went into effect this week.

DOE spokesperson Marcus Liem said Cardozo will be able to maintain its AP courses. He also said there were no budget cuts to the 2014 school year and no enrollment error.

“School budgets fluctuate annually based on the number of registered students,” he said. “We are working closely with Principal Martori to make sure that the school’s programming is aligned with their budget and continues to focus on providing rigorous courses to prepare our students for college and careers.”

 

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Martin Van Buren High School co-location meeting to be held


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A public hearing to discuss the city’s plans to co-locate Martin Van Buren High School will be held next month, education officials said.

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) has proposed adding a new early college within the struggling Queens Village school.

The two schools would share the 230-17 Hillside Avenue building, including its gym, cafeteria and auditorium.

A time and date was not yet specified, but officials said the hearing will take place in October.

The proposed Early College and Career Technical Education High School would serve grades nine to 14, which education officials say gives students the chance to get an associate degree while in high school. It would focus on computer science and business technology.

The DOE said last month it would open the Queens school and two of its kind in Manhattan by next September.

DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia said the handful of new schools citywide “will be a special new option that will deliver great outcomes for children.” He said the department is “confident it will be in very high demand.”

Early college programs give students “real-world work experience” through internships and focus on career readiness, officials said.

But Queens legislators, who rallied in July against the co-location plans, said the city would undo the progress Van Buren has made since Principal Sam Sochet took over last June.

Van Buren received a C in the DOE’s most recent progress report, which is based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests, coursework and student attendance. The school improved a full letter grade from the year before.

It was also acknowledged as “developing” during last year’s DOE evaluation, a step above the failing grade “underdeveloped.”

“One of the worst things that could happen to a school like Martin Van Buren is a co-location,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “Principal Sochet should be given every opportunity to restore the school to its former eminence.”

The number of applicants to the ninth to twelfth grade school has dropped by roughly 40 percent since the 2010-2011 school year, education officials said.

Van Buren was one of 22 schools in the city awarded $74.2 million in School Improvement Grants to be used over three years, State Education Commissioner John King Jr. announced in July.

 

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New state-of-the-art school facility opens in Long Island City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo By Angy Altamirano

The students of Long Island City’s P.S./I.S. 78 will now have a new place to learn and grow.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with local elected officials, parents, students and school leaders on September 12 to cut the ribbon on the new, state-of-the-art building, located at 46-08 5th Street, which will house P.S./I.S. 78 and P.S. 277-The Riverview School. The facility opened for the first day of school on September 9 and will serve a total of 578 students.

“This building offers P.S./I.S. 78 a state-of-the-art facility for the school to grow and prepare students for the older grades and for college and a career,” said Walcott.

P.S./I.S. 78 is expanding from its original site at 48-09 Center Boulevard, only a few blocks. Grades pre-kindergarten through second will remain at the original spot and students in third to sixth grades will move to the new facility, which later will include seventh and eighth grades.
P.S. 277 is a District 75 school serving special education students.

“We are delighted with the new building and know our A school will continue to offer the best education for our students,” said P.S./I.S. 78 Principal Louis Pavone. “We take pride in providing state-of-the-art online learning, and now we have a new building to complement the students’ skills.”

The new five-story building is fully air-conditioned and accessible for students with disabilities. It features 21 standard classrooms, eight special education classrooms, an art room, speech room, music suite, two science labs, a library, gym, auditorium, cafeteria, kitchen and outdoor playground.

“As Long Island City continues the growth that comes with being New York City’s hottest neighborhood, we must ensure that our schools and other infrastructure keep up,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “The opening of the new and improved P.S./I.S. 78 is a landmark event that represents a big step in that direction.”

The new facility was part of an effort by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer to help the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education secure five new school sites within western Queens. All the sites are expected to be fully operational over the next four years.

“Our children deserve the best we can possibly provide for them and this new facility promises to have a positive impact on the education our children will receive for generations to come,” said Van Bramer. “The expansion of P.S./I.S. 78 and creation of P.S. 277 in Long Island City will provide hundreds of students with a state-of-the-art facility right in the heart of a vibrant neighborhood that has become home to thousands of new families.”

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

 

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New Corona school building to ease overcrowding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A new school in Corona is set to ease the burden of overcrowded classrooms in the area.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), P.S. 330, currently located within a building at 86-37 53rd Avenue in Elmhurst, will move into a brand new location at 111-08 Northern Boulevard just in time for the beginning of the school year next week.

“This is a fantastic new building, and we’re confident that P.S. 330 will deliver well for its students there,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

P.S. 330 opened at the initial building in 2010 in order to lighten overcrowding in District 24 elementary schools. The school currently serves 220 students in kindergarten and first grade, but is expected to open more than 400 seats once it makes the move.

The new building will continue to alleviate overcrowding in Corona and is also located in an area closer to where 84 percent of the students currently live, the DOE said.

“Over the past 12 years, we’ve created over 125,000 new school seats,” said Puglia. “As we put up brand new, state-of-the-art buildings around the city, we’re meeting the needs of our schools and communities.”

Once P.S. 330, at its new location, completes its expansion and reaches its full capacity in the 2015-2016 school year, it will serve 570 to 630 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Because overcrowding is a serious issue in my district, I could not be happier to have P.S. 330 opening its doors this September,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.

In April, Ferreras established the Educational and Overcrowding Improvement Task Force. The task force was created to help improve the communication between the DOE and parents, as well as ease the overcrowding issues in Community Education Council Districts 24 and 30.

“These efforts, combined with plans for the construction of five additional schools in my district, will undoubtedly improve the overcrowding issues our local schools are currently experiencing,” said Ferreras.

According to the DOE, it will work with the community to figure out the best use for P.S. 330’s original building.

 

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New school opening in St. Albans


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office Of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

A new elementary school is coming to St. Albans to help alleviate overcrowding in the neighborhood’s existing schools.

The current St. Pascal Baylon Roman Catholic Church on 112th Avenue is being renovated into the new school, P.S. 892, and will welcome about 380 students.

“Once P.S. 892 opens, it will help relieve the overcrowding currently taking place at P.S. 118 and P.S. 134, while helping to ensure our youth have the resources to learn and be successful in the future,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who advocated for the renovation.

The abandoned church was once home to the Police Athletic League where they were able to provide various youth services to the community. However, after the group left the building, residents grew concerned not only that there would be a decrease in resources for their young people, but also that the site would be negative on the community, Comrie said.

But the new school is on its way. Once the $19 million renovation is complete, estimated to be by July 2014, students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade will walk through the doors and head to one of the 13 standard classrooms, two pre-kindergarten rooms or two special education classrooms.

It will also have a gym, science/art resource room, music suite, library, cafeteria, kitchen and an outdoor playground.

The building will additionally be equipped with wireless routers and LAN lines for Internet access, as well as interactive white boards in the classrooms.

An opening date has not yet been decided but is projected for 2015.

“We’re working hard as we can to work with and deliver for this community, and the new school reflects our efforts,” said a Department of Education spokesperson. “Anytime we open a new school, we’re confident it will achieve great outcomes for kids. When we can do it in a new building, even better.”

 

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Martin Van Buren to get $4M in School Improvement Grants


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A struggling Queens Village school will get more than $4 million in federal funds to bounce back this fall.

Martin Van Buren High School and 21 others in the city were awarded $74.2 million in School Improvement Grants (SIG) to be used over three years, State Education Commissioner John King Jr. announced Friday.

The state’s education department doled out a total of $126 million to 34 low-performing schools throughout New York this year. It was the second round of funding in 2013, though no Queens school was awarded earlier, officials said.

The dollars will go toward implementing “intervention models” in the failing schools, education officials said.

“Many English language learners, students with disabilities and low-income students are in schools that need to change,” King said. “SIG grants can help give those students the opportunity to attend schools that are changing what’s happening in the classroom.”

Van Buren received a C in the city Department of Education’s (DOE) most recent progress report, which is based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests, coursework and student attendance.

Elected officials said morale and grades have been improving under the school’s new principal, Sam Sochet, since he took over last June.

The school was also acknowledged as “developing” during last year’s DOE evaluation, a step above the failing grade “underdeveloped.”

“Our strategy has always been to take action rather than sit idly by,” said city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, “and today’s awards validate our work. [The grants] will support students at schools that are phasing out, provide resources to bolster interventions in schools that are struggling, and help new schools deliver great outcomes.”

Under the designated “transformation model,” Van Buren would have been forced to replace its principal, the state education department said. But since Sochet is new to the helm, that requirement is already satisfied, a city spokesperson said.

However, Van Buren educators, under another condition, will have to follow the state’s approved Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plans.

“Martin Van Buren High School has made huge strides over the year,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “This money will go a long way to help put the school in better shape than we are already.”

The DOE recently proposed adding another school inside Van Buren next year, in a move known as co-location, despite protests from Queens lawmakers. They say the move would eliminate 500 existing seats.

“Hopefully, the DOE will realize we can do wonderful things at Martin Van Buren and not worry about co-locating schools in the building,” Weprin said. “It’s already on the way back.”

 

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DOE says enrollment cuts reflect trend at LIC High School


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

The Department of Education (DOE) has come under harsh criticism from members of Long Island City High School after announcing plans to cut enrollment.

According to Ken Achiron, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) chapter leader at LIC High School, the DOE plans to cut the incoming ninth grade class from 1,000 to 440 students. He added the plan would entail $3 million in cuts to the school’s budget and the loss of 30 staff members.

“They have capped our incoming class below the numbers needed to maintain our quality programs,” said Achiron.

“The budget will hurt all grades, including seniors who expected courses to be available when they were scheduled to take them.”

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. Members of the LIC High School community believe the planned cut in enrollment is an attempt to close the school through other methods.

“It’s a good school, it’s a proficient school. They are doing very well and they survived the turnaround,” said James Vasquez, UFT representative for Queens high schools. “This isn’t about teachers losing their jobs; the issue is what it does to that school community. What’s happening here is the destruction of the school community.”

Yet, according to the DOE, the enrollment cuts are only a response to what has already been occurring at the school for years.

“Since 2007-2008, we have seen a 34 percent decrease in ninth grade enrollment and we’re expecting further drops next year,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “That’s as neighborhood parents have clamored for new, smaller, high-performing school options.”

The reduction would not be expected to take place until the 2014-2015 school year. LIC High School will have around 2,000 students after the decrease.

“An enrollment reduction would reflect what’s already occurring: lower parent demand for Long Island City High School and higher demand for alternatives,” said Puglia.

The DOE said it has been in communication with the community and that it might open a new school with a smaller student body. The department added that such a center would likely be a career and technical education school in the LIC High School building.

 

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Walcott addresses overcrowding in Corona school


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Parents and teachers at P.S. 143, the Louis Armstrong School, are overwhelmed by overcrowding and are clamoring for a solution.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott addressed the issue in a tense June 24 meeting in which parents and school officials were fuming over the two-decade-long problem.

The Corona elementary school has a capacity of 900 students, yet 1,780 students are currently enrolled, according to school officials.

In front of the main building on 34th Avenue between 112th and 113th Streets, there are four large, trailer-like classrooms.

“If they build a building outside for us, it will alleviate the overcrowding in here,” said Alma Salgado, president of the P.S. 143 Parent Teacher Association.

However, Walcott was cautious about such an approach.

“As soon as we build, we need to build more in district 24,” he said.

Parents said that the overcrowding has led to classrooms with 30 and sometimes more students. Some students have to eat lunch as early as 9:30 a.m., while others have classes in the cafeteria because of scheduling conflicts.

“It’s a hurdle that we have to jump over,” said first-year principal Jerry Brito. “It is obviously an issue we have to be aware of, because it does make it harder for us to run things.”

To address the overcrowding, the Department of Education leased space owned by a Greek Orthodox church on 38th Avenue. The site, about a dozen blocks away from P.S. 143, has accommodated 250 students.

The agreement was extended through the 2013-2014 school year. However, the property’s owners do not want to renew the lease for the 2014-2015 school year.

Before he left the meeting, Walcott said he will continue to look for a solution. He added that in three weeks, he will send an update to the school administrators to relay to parents.

 

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NYC pilot to extend school day for sixth graders


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Johann Hamilton

The last bell will ring two and a half hours later for 2,000 of the city’s sixth graders starting this fall.

A pilot program will provide additional literacy training at 20 middle schools with high-needs students, including five in Queens, according to the Department of Education (DOE).

The schools are also part of a 40-school expansion of the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), which provides extensive literary instruction in grades six through eight.

“We are committed to ensuring that all students are prepared for college and 21st century careers, and the Middle School Quality Initiative has been central to this mission,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The Queens schools participating in the pilot are P.S./I.S. 116 William C. Hughley in Jamaica, Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway, P.S. 043 in Far Rockaway, Queens United Middle School in Springfield Gardens and Village Academy in Far Rockaway.

The $6.2 million for the MSQI expansion comes from the City Council and DOE along with contributions from the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit that helps fight poverty, and other groups.

“We are confident that a daily dose of extra tutoring for students struggling with English language arts will significantly increase students’ ability to comprehend at [their] grade level across all subjects,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

However, Patricia Simmons, a school aid at P.S./I.S. 116, believes money can be allocated in better ways.

“If they’d just give the schools the supplies they need, then they wouldn’t need to extend the time,” she said. “So many classes don’t have enough textbooks or workbooks.”

Another faculty member was concerned about the age of the students in the program.

“For the little kids, it’ll be too much, but the older ones will be able to handle it,” said a teacher who wanted to remain anonymous.

Tedric Simpson, a former student, also agreed the pilot might be taxing on the sixth graders.

“It’s too much school for one day. They could maybe do it from Monday to Wednesday, but not every day,” she said.

For parents, the benefit went beyond learning.

“Some parents can’t afford babysitters, so the extra hours could be good for them,” said Jean Elie.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Community concern over high school sharing building with younger students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

As one of the 15 new schools announced to open in Queens in September, the Department of Education (DOE) is planning to co-locate a new high school in the same building as a middle school — and it has created mixed feelings within the community.

Energy Tech High School is expected to open at I.S. 204, located at 36-41 28th Street in Long Island City, and will be a new career and technical education (CTE) high school in partnership with Con Edison and National Grid.

“Energy tech is a visionary school similar to that of the nationally-recognized P-Tech, which was lauded by the president in the State of the Union,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

The new high school will serve students from grades 9 through 14, who will be able to earn a high school diploma and Associates Degree through a partnership with CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College.

Although members of District 30 advocated for another CTE high school in Queens, mixing in the much older students with the middle school children is what has the community on the edge.

“There are two sides,” said Jeffrey Guyton, co-president of District 30’s Community Education Council (CEC). “I’m really in favor of that kind of program, but I’m also queasy about it.”

Energy Tech will have two years of college included, and according to Isaac Carmignani, CEC co-president, the college students will spend most of their time at LaGuardia, rather than at the high school.

“Some of the council [CEC] had a problem with that because having young adults mingling with 11- and 12-year-old middle schoolers is something that bothers them even though the population will be kept as separate as possible by the school,” said Carmignani.

I.S. 204 already shares the school building with The Academy for Careers in Television and Film. The high school will be moving next year to a new building in Hunters Point and leaving the space vacant.

The new CTE school will expose students to the energy industry, allowing them to intern with Con Edison and National Grid and be mentored by professionals.

“Schools throughout the city share space, and when adults put children first, most co-locations are very successful,” said Puglia.

Even with disagreements about the co-location, Guyton and Carmignani hope to be able to support the students in both communities and monitor what happens once the school moves in.

“Anytime you make these big changes, you’re rolling the dice. Maybe it’s going to work really well, maybe it’s not,” said Guyton. “If there are problems, we are going to communicate those immediately.”

 

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15 new schools to open in Queens next fall


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/Photo by Edward Reed

Education is expanding throughout the borough with 15 new schools opening this fall, announced Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“With our new schools and school leaders, we’ll continue to provide our children with the opportunities they deserve,” said Bloomberg.

Of the 15, two will be elementary schools, six middle schools, one school housing grades 6 through 12, three high schools, one transfer high school and two career technical and educational (CTE) high schools.

One CTE school opening in Long Island City, CTE Energy Tech High School, is partnering with LaGuardia Community College, Con Edison and National Grid to give students unique internship and apprenticeship opportunities outside of the classroom, as well as a rigorous curriculum, all to prepare them for a future in the booming energy industry.

“We want to give students opportunities [to participate] in hands-on problem solving, getting to know the industry, getting out and seeing what the work feels like,” said Hope Barter, Energy Tech’s principal-to-be.

The new CTE school will share a building with I.S. 204, and despite some opposition from parents on the co-location, Barter thinks the tech students’ undertaking can only benefit the neighborhood and the city.

“Having another engineering program is an incredible opportunity for our teens and for the community,” she said.
Energy Tech and other city CTE schools, all grades 9 through 14, will give students not only high school diplomas but also associates degrees.

“As a product of the New York City public school system, I know firsthand the importance of a solid technical education,” said Ken Daly, president of National Grid New York. “Our partnership with the Energy Tech High School supports National Grid’s ‘Engineering Our Future’ initiative to build a qualified and skilled workforce.”

Mainstream schools are also spreading across the city, including the new Hunters Point Community Middle School, where students will be given the opportunity to participate in interest-based programs as well as work through an accelerated curriculum.

“Everything is going to be very engaging,” said Sarah Goodman, the middle school’s principal. “I think we’re going to provide a combination of things that are really important – a strong set of foundational skills, and a curriculum in classrooms and advisories that’s going to expose kids to ideas, ways of thinking and possible career paths.”

Community leadership and organizational skills will also be one of the school’s focuses under Goodman’s leadership.

“The range of schools that’s opening is going to give students such a range of programs to choose from,” said Barter.“We’re all doing something different, and it’s always exciting to give students choices and options.”

Citywide, 78 new schools will serve nearly 10,000 students. Once the schools reach full capacity, that number will too grow to 32,000 students.

“The schools announced today will help us continue to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality education in New York City,” said Walcott.

 

New schools opening in Queens next fall

Elementary Schools:

  • Elm Tree Elementary School
  • East Elmhurst Community School

Middle Schools:

  • Corona Arts and Sciences Academy
  • Hawtree Creek Middle School
  • The Emerson School
  • Queens United Middle School
  • Hunters Point Community Middle School
  • Middle Village Prep Charter School

Middle/High School:

  • The Riverview School (District 75)

High Schools:

  • International High School for Health Sciences
  • Veritas Academy
  • Queens High School for Language Studies

High Schools/ CTE:

  • Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights
  • Energy Tech High School

Transfer High School:

  • Voyages Prep – South Queens

 

 

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Jamaica school wins fight to stay open


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of P.S. 140

The Department of Education (DOE) has taken Jamaica’s Public School 140 off the chopping block.

“There are a lot of good things happening here,” said Principal David Norment.

Since taking over as principal last school year, Norment has made significant changes to the K-5 school, changes that were not evident on the latest DOE progress report.

First, he implemented a system that would hold teachers, students and parents accountable.

Students are now assessed every six weeks, which allows teachers and parents to identify in which area each individual student needs help. The teachers are able to alter their lesson plans, and parents receive information regularly about their child’s progress.

“We really looked at creating a [system to] measure students’ progress and growth aside from city tests,” said Norment.

The DOE threatened the ax last October, and since then, P.S. 140 parents, teachers and students fought actively to stay open. They held meetings, attended rallies and spoke with local elected officials. At a joint public hearing on Friday, February 22, the DOE decided to withdraw its phase-out proposal and leave P.S. 140 open.

“Students, parents and community leaders pointed to promising quantitative and qualitative signs that suggest this school can get on the right track quickly,” said the DOE.

“We’re making school not just testing and testing, but the whole child experience,” Norment said. “You don’t just make sudden changes, it takes time.”

 

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Parents fight against gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Don’t fix what’s not broken.

That was the message echoed through P.S. 122’s auditorium on Wednesday, March 6, by concerned parents, school officials and local politicians looking to stop the gutting of the school’s prestigious gifted and talented classes.

The “emergency meeting,” which brought over 500 attendees, was organized by the school’s PTA in response to the Department of Education’s proposal last month to eliminate classes at the prestigious middle school program known as The Academy at P.S. 122. The cuts will happen in order to expand the general education population into the eighth grade.

“This is a meeting to show we’re united,” said Claudia Lieto-McKenna, co-president of the PTA. “It is our issue together.”
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.

“You’re not worried just about your kids, you are worried about everyone else’s kids,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. “We started this fight together and we’ll end it together.”

Two DOE representatives were present at the meeting to take down comments and concerns from the community, yet were met with a hostile reception from parents who felt their questions were being ignored and unanswered.

“We’re being bullied about our kid’s education,” said Nikos Kantzoglou, 47, a P.S. 122 parent. “We’re not going to stand for it.”

According to Lieto-McKenna, the reduction of classes at The Academy will result in the loss of the school’s art and music rooms, computer and science labs and library, as they will all be turned into classrooms. The overcrowding at the school will also cause lunch periods to begin as early as 9:30 a.m.

“We can never give up, to do so is to give up on our children,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Along with parents and officials, P.S. 122 alumni were also in attendance, including a graduate from the class of 1939, and some made their voices heard on stopping the “attack” on their “model school.”

“I don’t like seeing this school being attacked,” said Linday James Soto, 20, who attended P.S. 122. “This school has helped me get where I am.” Soto also stood up during the meeting to express his anger to the DOE representatives, saying the proposal would turn the school into a “compulsory prison.”

Although negative uproars were heard in the auditorium, some speakers hoped to be able to work with the DOE to reach a plan that would benefit the community.

“We’ll work with you,” said Jeffrey Guyton of Community District Education Council 30 to the DOE representatives. “You will succeed beyond your wildest expectations.”

According to Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent, as of Friday, March 8, the District 30 Education Coalition has retained counsel and will be filing an injunction against the DOE.

 

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Parents, teachers, students fight to keep new schools out of Flushing HS


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Parents, teachers and students at an embattled Flushing school are fighting to keep the city out of their space.

Scores of supporters gathered at Flushing High School to have their voices heard by the Department of Education (DOE) during an agency-hosted public hearing on February 28.

The city plans to add a small district high school and a Chinese bilingual school inside the storied institution. The two new schools would share the building — including the gym, cafeteria and auditorium — with Flushing High School students.

“Our goal is to create a system of great schools that prepare all students for college,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “Designed to meet the needs of individual communities, our new, small schools have delivered resounding results.”

Math teacher Jessica Dimech said the proposal was just another blow to the struggling school after the city unsuccessfully tried closing it less than a year ago.

“You gave us another six months with a stacked deck [and] cut our funding,” said Dimech, also a member of the school’s leadership team. “The DOE time and time again pulls the carpet from underneath us. Please just let me do my job.”

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) is largely expected to vote in favor of the proposal on March 11, sources said. The panel supported the city’s attempt to shutter dozens of city schools last April before a court order reversed the approval.

But the Queens representative on the panel, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, said he would vote against the plans.
“Enough is enough. Flushing High School doesn’t want to be part of a chance experiment,” he said.

According to Juan Mendez, superintendent of Queens high schools, the change would decrease enrollment by 850 students at the crowded school. Flushing would take in fewer incoming freshman under the plan.

There is also a proposal to place an international school, serving English language learners, inside Newtown High School in Elmhurst. The new institution would prepare recently arrived immigrant students for college.

Newtown improved from a “C” to a “B” on its last DOE progress report. Flushing received a “D” in the last two years, recently failing both student progress and performance.

Flushing High freshman Stephanie Kouboulas vouched for “the best teachers” at the school as she broke down in tears.

“You want us just to fade out into the dust and never be here,” said Kouboulas, 14. “Flushing High School has been here a long time. It shouldn’t go anywhere.”

 

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Maspeth mom looking for answers after kindergartner leaves school unnoticed


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Five-year-old Angelo Geremia pushed open his school doors, walked home in the pouring rain with no coat, and nobody noticed.

“I just don’t understand what happened,” said his mother, Georgina Geremia. “Something upset him to make him leave, and no one was watching him.”

Geremia got a call on Wednesday, February 27, from her neighbor who told her that little Angelo was outside his house, screaming to be let in. She estimates it took him about 20 minutes to walk from his school, P.S. 229, to their home on 62nd Street. An extra ten minutes that he was trying to get inside leaves 30 minutes that the five-year-old was unaccounted for.

Geremia had to call the school and tell the principal herself that her son had walked out.

“I asked what can [the principal] do to guarantee that this won’t happen again. She told me she can’t guarantee it won’t,” she said.

For the roughly 1,400 kids in P.S. 229, there is one security guard and no cameras. How the kindergartner got out of the school is still not clear. He said he went out the front door, but school officials said he went out the back door.

He also said he was upset he got a time-out, but school officials said he left after a trip to the bathroom. However, at any given moment, an aide should be watching the students, Geremia said.

Geremia said the school’s principal, Dr. Sibylle Ajwani, was apologetic. But there has been no answer as to what consequences are coming for the aide who dropped the ball, she said.

“If something would have happened to him, then what?” she asked. “Somebody went to work that day and just didn’t do their job.”

The Department of Education (DOE) and P.S. 229 did not return calls for comment.

 

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