Tag Archives: DOE

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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Outrage over fewer gifted and talented seats at Queens school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Deborah Alexander

As her son Augustus began kindergarten in the city’s gifted and talented program at Sunnyside’s P.S. 150, Deborah Alexander was excited at the thought he would eventually be enrolling in the prestigious middle school program known as The Academy at P.S.122 in Astoria.

Yet the excitement turned to concern as the Department of Education revealed its plan last week to cut down the number of classes at The Academy in order to expand P.S. 122’s general education population into the eighth grade.

“Tearing down a middle school program that was ranked number two in the state makes no sense,” said Alexander, who also has a two-year-old daughter zoned for P.S. 122.

Other outraged parents met with members of the DOE last Thursday night at P.S. 234 to voice their concerns. Although the parents hoped to get answers that night, they were left with more questions.

“They were treating us not even how we treat our children, it was insulting,” said Alexander who couldn’t hold back tears at the meeting. “I asked for a raise of hands of who was in support and not a single hand was raised.”

This announcement comes a month after the DOE unveiled a new gifted middle school that will open in fall 2013 at Long Island City’s I.S. 126 with seats for 60 students. Yet because of the cuts, students from P.S. 150, P.S. 166 in Long Island City and P.S. 217 in Roosevelt Island will all be competing for the 60 seats.

“They tried to say ‘look at what we gave you,’ but instead of adding the seats we asked for, they reduced them,” said Alexander.

The DOE has responded by telling parents that according to the DOE’s Chancellor’s Regulations, P.S. 122 is supposed to be a K-8 building, and rules have not been followed.

“It’s the department disrespecting the community. They went off and pissed off a community that was really, really happy,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the District 30 Community Education Council.

According to Carmignani, this change will extend to all classes at P.S. 122 through eighth grade starting with this year’s incoming kindergarten. By 2019, there will only be room for one class per grade in The Academy, down from the three to four classes offered now.

Parents are afraid the expansion will overcrowd the school, create more lunch periods starting at 9 a.m., and cut science and math programs. They also worry the remaining classes at The Academy will go down in quality as fewer classes are offered.

“They are taking a school that is a model and destroying it in the process,” said Alexander. “This concern is for the community and the district as a whole, not just one school or population.”

Local politicians joined parents in opposition of cutting down classes at The Academy. “The problem is that they are going to be cutting the overall amount of G&T seats and that’s completely unacceptable,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. “Even with additional classes in other locations the seats in total have been cut down.”

Before any drastic changes take place, the community hopes to be able to work out an agreement with the DOE to keep the gifted and talented seats either at P.S. 122 or at another school.

“We as parents would love to work with the DOE to create a program to allow our students to receive the appropriate education for their personal learning needs,” said Karen Schumacher, whose daughter Magie is a first grader in the program at P.S. 150. “Let’s add, let’s expand, let’s not destroy.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 36 with a windchill as low as 16. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 25F with a windchill as low as 12. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Mid Winter Nocturnal Hike

Explore Alley Pond Environmental Center’s trails in search of evening animals. The special early evening hike will include APEC’s live nocturnal animal demonstration, hot cocoa and munchies. For children ages 7 and up. Pre-registration required. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rape suspect caught after jumping subway turnstile

A Queens man wanted for an August rape was apprehended after he was arrested for subway fare evasion, said police. Read more: Queens Courier

NYC school bus service set to resume for first time in a month

New York City school buses will roll in force on Wednesday morning, for the first time in a whole month. Read more: CBS New York

Raw sewage spilling onto Queens block causing a stink among baffled neighbors

One bad neighbor is causing a major stink for a Queens community. A Woodhaven house has been spewing raw sewage onto the street from a faulty drain pipe for over six weeks, and neighbors are frustrated that city agencies have been unable to compel a fix. Read more: New York Daily News

7 line back to normal after power outage

Things are back to normal on the No. 7 line Wednesday after a power failure to the switches made for a commuting nightmare Tuesday night. Read more: ABC New York

Mother of beach-slay victim received eerie text from daughter after she disappeared

The mother of a Queens woman whose bound body washed ashore over the weekend received a single, startling text from her daughter’s phone the day she disappeared, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

DOE may let some city students who fail state tests move on to next grade

The Department of Education plans to change the policy requiring students who fail state tests to pass summer school or repeat a grade level. Read more: NY1

China says U.S. hacking accusations lack technical proof

Accusations by a U.S. computer security company that a secretive Chinese military unit is likely behind a series of hacking attacks are scientifically flawed and hence unreliable, China’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. Read more: Reuters

Queens’ Morning


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 43. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the West in the afternoon. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 37. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Much Ado About Nothing

On opening night of Much Ado About Nothing at The Secret Theatre in LIC, patrons receive chocolates, a rose and two glasses of pink bubbly in a two-for-$30 deal. Show runs from February 14 to March 2. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Bloomberg to propose more electric  car parking, Styrofoam ban

On the eve of his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a new ban in store, as well as a parking proposal that might drive some New Yorkers crazy. Read more: CBS New York

NYS audit finds MTA is sitting on $90M

A New York State audit finds that the MTA overlooked over $90 million sitting in various bank accounts. Read more: Fox New York

Queens officials request meeting with FAA to discuss noise created by new flight patterns

Queens elected officials are urging the FAA to redesign flight patterns to curb aircraft noise around its two airports. Read more: New York Daily News

Rebuilt Rockaway beaches need more than a big dose of sand, locals say

There’s a whole lot of sand coming to storm-ravaged Rockaway Beach this year, but locals are worried it’s not enough to stave off another attack from Mother Nature. Read more: New York Daily News

DOE to allow students to transfer out of public schools getting phased out

Department Of Education officials announced Wednesday that they will allow families to transfer their children out of 61 public schools deemed by city officials to be failing. Read more: NY1

American Airlines, US Airways announce $11 billion merger

American Airlines and US Airways say they’re merging in a deal they value at $11 billion, creating the world’s biggest airline. Read more: ABC New York

 

Bus companies bid for routes as drivers continue to strike


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

The first major bid for bus routes in more than 33 years garnered 67 requests from bus companies, clamoring for over 1,100 routes, according to the Department of Education (DOE).

Bidding for the contracts ended on Monday, February 11, almost a month into the citywide bus strike. The bids are worth approximately $1 billion over the next five years, according to the DOE.

The bidding process, implemented in 2011, resulted in projected savings of $95 million.

In December, the DOE issued a Request for Bid (RFB) for 1,110 special education bus route contracts, set to expire on June 30. The new contracts are expected to be in place by the start of the 2013 school year.

Drivers from Local 1181 began striking on January 16, fighting to ensure contracts have Employee Protection Provisions (EPP) that state drivers will retain runs, regardless of what company oversees the route.

According to published reports, several school bus companies are suing the city to remove EPP for senior workers from existing private bus contracts. The names of the companies have not been released.

 

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Find out which school bus routes will be affected by the strike


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot from NYC DOE website

In anticipation of a bus strike that is set to begin Wednesday, January 16 , the New York City Department of Education has set up an online tool on its website that will tell students if they’re bus routes will be impacted by the strike.

Information is refreshed daily beginning at 7:00 a.m. and throughout the day as needed.

Click here to use the search tool.

 

Parents oppose P.S. 140 phase out


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The Department of Education (DOE) has issued a proposal to phase out a Jamaica elementary school – but the community will not go quietly.

“My daughter is heartbroken,” said Lashawna Colliard, whose daughter, Alexis, is in the fourth grade at P.S. 140.

The school, due to consistently bad grades on its yearly progress reports, has been on the looming chopping block since last October, and administrators and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) have been working feverishly to improve conditions. A final decision whether to phase out the school or not will be made in March.

“It’s extremely disheartening,” said Wydia Gavin, PTA vice president. “The principal has done a lot of revamping and placing people strategically where they would be effective; this proposal hasn’t allowed him to prove that there have been significant changes made.”

Principal David Norment joined the P.S. 140 staff in February 2012, becoming the school’s fourth principal within just one year. According to PTA members, Norment came into a “messy situation.”

“Since he came in, he’s been working diligently with his staff to produce the proper scores that they need to see changes and improvement,” said Gavin. “You won’t get to see the progress because [the DOE] deadline doesn’t factor in his changes.”

This school year, P.S. 140 credits itself with a 50 percent reduction in suspensions, a 93.8 percent attendance rate – the highest in 12 years – building improvements and multiple new school sports and art programs.

The school’s superintendent, Beverly Ffolkes-Bryant, held an assembly Tuesday, January 8 with the students and explained the situation, along with the phasing out process.

“[Alexis] called me as soon as the assembly was over,” said Colliard. “She said, ‘Mommy, they’re closing my school!’ [The DOE] shouldn’t do it, not yet.”

A new administration would take over the P.S. 140 building this September, if the DOE approves the plan, and take charge of Pre-K through second grade. Third through fifth grade would still be a part of P.S. 140. The new administration would gradually phase out P.S. 140 by taking over a grade a year, so that all grades are incorporated by September 2016.
Bryant also held a parent information session, and there will be a public hearing in February. The DOE will consider all parent testimonies, and will hold a final vote in March.

The PTA has rallied parents and encourages them to call or email the DOE, voicing their concerns. They will continue to hold workshops, put out phone blasts, and keep the community informed.

Other Queens schools set to possibly be phased out include the Law, Government and Community Service High School as well as Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School; P.S. 156 faces a truncation of its middle school.

 

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Impending school-bus strike could leave students stranded


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

A city-wide school-bus strike, leaving 152,000 children stranded, is likely to begin on Wednesday.

According to the New York Post, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 has begun printing strike posters, assigning members to picket line locations at various bus yards and handed out a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for conduct during a strike. The strike could be announced as early as today.

Last week, School’s Chancellor Dennis Walcott released a statement, addressing parents concerns about getting their children to school should there be a strike. According to the statement, the Department of Education (DOE) will implement measures including robo-calling affected families and providing MetroCards and reimbursements for those who must drive or use a car service.

Nearly 54,000 of the students left without bus service have disabilities and require special transportation services.

“The union is asking for something we cannot legally deliver and are putting a central and necessary service at risk,” Walcott said. “A strike would be irresponsible and would adversely impact our students and their families who rely on bus service to get to and from school. As the City continues to take all possible precautions in advance of a potential strike, we are asking parents to make a plan in the event that busing is disrupted.”

Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union threatened to strike due to contract bid specifications excluding job guarantees for certain current drivers. According to the DOE, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that such a guarantee, known as the Employee Protection Provision, could not be included under the circumstances of the bids for pre-kindergarten bus contracts last year.

Queens schools may be phased out


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

For months, the Department of Education (DOE) had been evaluating city schools’ progress reports, noting those that were in danger of closing. The process is continuing, and now several Queens schools could possibly be phased out.

This process, which eliminates one grade at a time from the troubled schools, will be finalized after a vote this coming March. Public School 140 in Jamaica; Law, Government and Community Service High School in Jamaica; and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in St. Albans are all on the chopping block. P.S. 156 in Laurelton faces a possible truncation, which will eliminate its middle school.

“We expect success,” said DOE Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “Ultimately, we know we can better serve our students and families with new options and a new start.”

However, the community is not taking the news lying down.

“I will continue to press the administration to keep these schools open,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “Many people at these schools work extremely hard to give their students the best education possible, but the city makes their jobs much harder by not allocating the proper resources and ignoring community input.”

Sternberg countered this claim, saying that the DOE has listened to the community and provided support services to the low-performing schools based on their needs, but it is time to take action.

However, Comrie said the city standards used to measure schools are “confusing, arbitrary, and hindering, rather than helping, to improve the education system.”

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in particular was one school with a good reputation, and according to Comrie, was asked by the DOE to take in more students. However, while they took in the additional students, they were not given the extra resources needed to accommodate them.

Citywide, 22 schools are facing phase-outs, two are looking at possible closure, and two more could be truncated.

Previously, J.H.S. 008, I.S. 059 and Flushing High School faced closure, but have since passed the DOE standards and will remain open.

“We expect every school to deliver for our students, and are working hard to offer families more high performing choices,” said Sternberg.
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School bus drivers threaten to strike after holiday break


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After the new year, kids may be looking for a new way to get to school.

Yellow school bus drivers have threatened to strike when children are scheduled to return to school after the holidays. The city’s contract with Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1181 is set to expire in June and a bid, open to all suitors, was issued to secure a new contract.

“Going through with the strike now would be unfair to our kids and absolutely unacceptable,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The union is upset that the bid does not include language that will guarantee current drivers a job in the next contract, something Bloomberg said was deemed illegal.

“The union is protesting a job guarantee the DOE is not allowed to provide,” the mayor said.

The strike would affect 152,000 students and 7,700 school bus routes citywide.

The DOE has taken efforts to provide transportation if the strike does occur and sent parents a letter on the step that will be taken.

Metrocards will be provided to students who receive yellow bus service and to the parents of children in grades kindergarten to second grade and parents of children with special needs.

Those in areas where public transportation is not readily available will be reimbursed by the DOE for any transportation costs.

Field trips that required a yellow bus will be cancelled in the event of a strike and after-school programs will remain open.

The union also threatened to strike in November of 2011 over similar circumstances, but the work stoppage was averted.

Calls to the union for comment were not immediately returned.

Queens music teacher accused of sleeping with 16-year-old


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

IS 59 (2)w

A music teacher at a school in Springfield Gardens was arrested for allegedly maintaining a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Vaughn McKinney, 58, is accused of starting a relationship with the female student when she was 16 after the two met through a Brooklyn church choir group, led by McKinney’s wife, according to a report from the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI). The student attends school in Brooklyn, and McKinney has been the music teacher at I.S. 59 in Springfield Gardens since 2002.

The investigation began in March of 2012, when the girl’s mother went to the SCI office to report an inappropriate relationship between her daughter and McKinney. He was arrested on Thursday, December 20.

“I can’t believe he was at this school,” said Ryan Hilton, whose nephew attends I.S. 59. “I’m glad they finally got him.”

The girl’s mother alleged that after meeting, her daughter spoke with McKinney about needing a job, and the Springfield teacher said he would give her money in exchange for sex. This allegedly continued, and McKinney also provided her with a cell phone, on which the two communicated, gave her an iPod and money to buy clothes, according to the report.

The student’s mother also met with McKinney’s wife, Patricia, on numerous occasions after Patricia found a telephone invoice in her husband’s belongings with the young girl’s name on it. Patricia reached out to the mother, and the two met and discussed suspicions of a sexual relationship between McKinney and the minor.

The minor’s mother claims to have known about the relationship since November 2011, but did not report it immediately out of fear. The father, divorced from the mother, brought the girl to their local police station, but she refused to cooperate with police because she was afraid, according to the report.

Officials at the Brooklyn church attempted to get involved and stop the inappropriate relationship, but to no avail. The student confided in Pastor Brian Pettrey about the gifts that McKinney was giving her in exchange for sex, and he responded by taking her cell phone in attempts to put an end to the affair, and by holding conferences with her mother.

When interviewed by the SCI, McKinney confirmed that he bought the student an iPod and a cell phone, but only because he “felt sorry for [her and she] complained about not having things that other kids her age had.”

He also confirmed to having multiple sexual encounters with her when she was 17, but did not report to having done so past January 2012. In June 2012, the minor was still using a cell phone given to her by McKinney.

The matter will now be prosecuted by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Education is currently seeking McKinney’s termination.

DOE reviews safety for its students


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Now, Bristy Roy is afraid that tragedy can strike her daughter’s school too.

In the days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Roy, whose six year old is in kindergarten at P.S. 31, told The Courier, “Now, I’m so scared.”

In the wake of the shooting, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults in sleepy Newtown, Connecticut, city parents, school administrators and the Department of Education (DOE) are responding accordingly, and making sure that students stay safe.

“The fathers and mothers in that situation . . . I’m still crying every time I watch it on the news,” Roy said.

Schools in the area have responded to the tragedy by reviewing safety procedures with teachers, that include having teachers sign up for text alerts and executing a mandatory procedure in which any adult entering the school must show photo identification.

DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a letter to schools citywide, assuring them that safety is of the utmost concern.

“We have been in constant communication with the NYPD and their School Safety Division,” said Walcott. “I encourage you to guide your staff and students in maintaining your school’s regular schedule and continuing to be sensitive to the needs of your students as they learn more about this loss.”

Roy’s daughter has been one of the students learning more about the shooting, and innocently asked her mother what had happened.

“Five years old, six years old, that’s a baby,” said Roy, grabbing her heart. “I felt like something happened to me, because I have a child the same age.”

When Roy picked her daughter up from school Friday afternoon, she said she just hugged her as tight as she could, thankful that she was safe.

“Anyone can just walk into that school,” she said, pointing to the P.S. 31 doors. “They need to really check every single person that walks in.”

Walcott said that administrators should provide a safe place to discuss what happened for any students that wish to talk, and that guidance counselors and school psychologists should make themselves available. Resources on how to deal with the situation have also been posted on the Principals’ Portal and the Guidance and Teacher pages of the DOE website.

The DOE also requests that every school community review their visitor control procedures as well as the general response protocols, covering shelter-in, lockdowns and evacuations.

“While this tragedy occurred outside the bounds of our city, I know you share my sorrow for the students, families and colleagues affected,” said Walcott.

Sunnyside will get new school to assist growing population


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

RENDERINGS COURTESY OF MACRAE-GIBSON ARCHITECTS

A Queens neighborhood desperately in need of class space for its booming student population is getting a state-of-the-art $57.3 million facility.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE) said the agency is in the early stages of developing plans for a new school to be located at 45-46 42nd Street in Sunnyside, between Queens Boulevard and 47th Avenue. The 75,000-square-foot structure, called P.S. 313, will seat roughly 430 students in grades kindergarten through five and is expected to be completed in June 2014.

“It’s going to be a fantastic addition to the area,” said Gavin Macrae-Gibson, whose company Macrae-Gibson Architects is designing the school. “The site has been empty for a while. Overcrowding in Queens is quite dramatic. It’s hard to find these sites.”

The building will include a gym, cafeteria, kitchen, administrative and medical suites, 20 classrooms, specialty art and science rooms and a library. It will also have a rooftop play space and a separate early childhood play area.

The site is located in a densely-packed urban block, surrounded by seven- and five-story brick residential buildings and some smaller single-family residences. According to Macrae-Gibson, the architects used a contextual approach to designing the school’s layout and look, integrating it seamlessly into the neighborhood.

“It’s a pretty urban and dense neighborhood, well-defined,” said Macrae-Gibson. “A school has to fit in to its neighborhood. It wants to look like it’s part of the context but stand out.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the morning, then partly cloudy. Fog early. High of 54. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 34F with a windchill as low as 27. Breezy. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Jillian Peña – The Guiding Light

The Guiding Light is a sci-fi religious ballet. It explores religiosity in the balletic body, the desire to believe in something, and the complex relationship of the individual within the group. This sci-fi religious ballet trio explores the uncanny through the multiplication and duplication of the dancers both metaphorically and actually. Starts at 8 p.m. at the Chocolate Factory in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens man Ahmed Ferhani pleads guilty to plotting to blow up a string of Manhattan synagogues

A Queens man admitted Tuesday he wanted to “create chaos” by plotting to blow up a string of Manhattan synagogues — giving Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance the first state-level terror conviction under laws passed after the 9/11 attacks. Read more: New York Daily News

Teachers’ union joins chorus of concern about formerly flooded Queens school

The teachers’ union has joined parents in raising concerns about the safety of a Queens school flooded by Sandy. Read more: NY1

Police: Man implicates himself in deadly midtown subway push

Police said Tuesday night that a suspect implicated himself in a shocking subway pushing incident in Manhattan a day earlier that cost a man his life. Read more: CBS New York

New Far Rockaway playground hit by vandal and then again by Superstorm Sandy

This little playground in Far Rockaway has had a tough first year. Before it was even open to the public, the much-needed play space near Beach 29th St. was ravaged by a heartless vandal in March. The city rebuilt it only to see it battered by Superstorm Sandy months later. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City hits Sandy victims with ‘failure to maintain’ property citation

Residents in one Queens neighborhood are crying foul after they were written up for failing to clean up the city’s own mess. It is yet another new complication in life after Superstorm Sandy. Read more: CBS New York

Fiscal cliff offers hint at more defense cuts

House Republicans’ “fiscal cliff” counteroffer to President Barack Obama hints at billions of dollars in military cuts on top of the nearly $500 billion that the White House and Congress backed last year, and even the fiercest defense hawks acknowledge that the Pentagon faces another financial hit. Read more: AP