Tag Archives: I.S. 238

Report: Five Queens schools falling apart


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of SEIU Local 32BJ

Some city schools need a major makeover, according to a building inspections report released by the school cleaners’ union.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ issued a report on the 20 schools in the worst condition after tallying scores from the city’s annual school inspections. Out of about 1,500 schools citywide, five Queens schools made the list of top offenders.

In all five schools, SEIU 32BJ found crumbling interiors as well as toxins on tiles and in the air.

“It’s hazardous material that we’re talking about removing from our schools immediately,” said Gene Syzmanski, the union’s schools division director.

I.S. 238 in Hollis climbed the charts to second worst on the list. One school cleaner said the building needs wide-ranging fixes.

“The water valves need to be repaired,” he said. “Every classroom has a stain from leaks. I feel bad when I see the building like this.”

The cleaner, who withheld his name from publication, said he wants to fix everything in a state of disrepair.

But he added that the head custodian will not cooperate.

“When I tell him something is broken, he says leave it,” the cleaner explained. “He said to me, ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s not your problem.’”

The man said roughly 2,000 lights throughout the building are not working, many door handles are broken and bathrooms are “falling apart.”

I.S. 72 in Jamaica came in as the seventh worst school. Other Queens schools on the list included the Cynthia Jenkins School in Jamaica, P.S. 86, also in Jamaica, and Richmond Hill High School.

The report also said schools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods were in the worst condition.

“I’ve visited many schools,” Syzmanski said. “In the more affluent neighborhoods, the schools were immaculate.”

The Department of Education (DOE) said it spends more than $3 billion in building improvements under its capital plan and any serious maintenance-related complaints are “addressed immediately, as are simple, easy fixes.”

“We consistently provide a clean, safe and healthy learning and working environment in our 1,260 school buildings every day,” a DOE spokesperson said.

Local 32BJ said the priority was to remove everything containing hazardous material, such as asbestos on tiles.

“This stuff needs to be removed as soon as possible for the benefit of the children and everybody who works for the schools,” said Syzmanski.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Chancellor Walcott urges parental involvement


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott will have to rise to many challenges this fall, and he is prepared to do so.

Walcott attended District 29’s Education Town Hall meeting Thursday, September 20, both the district’s and the chancellor’s first town hall meeting of the school year. Walcott took the opportunity to convey his mission and took several questions from concerned parents.

“How do we focus our energy on our students,” asked Walcott, questioning an attentive crowd in the I.S. 238 Susan B. Anthony Academy auditorium.

For the upcoming year, in order to ensure good performance district-wide, Walcott noted a need for heavy parent involvement in their children’s education. New city standards are more demanding than previous years, and in turn, Walcott says that parents should demand more of themselves.

“Tests will be more difficult than ever before,” he said. “All of us should make sure we are collectively working together for our students.”

Walcott, who attended school in District 29 and whose grandson currently does as well, said he has a “special interest” in the area, and wants to make sure students and also teachers are prepared to meet the new standards.

The chancellor also tended to parents and their concerns, which ranged from overcrowding solutions to a need for physical fitness programs.

Bellerose’s P.S./I.S. 208 in particular, according to parents, has a severe overcrowding problem, averaging 38 students per class.

Walcott said that since the school year is still very new, registers determining class sizes will not be complete until later in the season. Once those numbers are received, if there is still a problem, it will be addressed by the DOE.

As a solution to overcrowding, Walcott proposed the creation of new schools. He advocated having the options of charter schools, single sex schools and public schools, believing that students will respond better to a variety of choices.

“Our goal is to create high quality schools. We have a responsibility to serve the students,” said the chancellor.