Tag Archives: I.S. 59

Op-ed: Co-location: What’s the rush?


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER DAVID WEPRIN

Late last month the Department of Education’s Panel on Educational Policy voted on all co-location proposals. Martin Van Buren High, I.S. 59, August Martin High School, P.S. 40, J.H.S. 226, M.S. 72 and the Corona Arts and Sciences are the schools facing co-location in Queens.

The Department of Education called off its plans to co-locate a new elementary school in the building of P.S. 1 after parents, teachers and elected official spoke out against the proposal. At the Martin Van Buren High School co-location hearing, State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Mark Weprin and I along with the parents, teachers, civic leaders, students and community members urged the Department of Education to hold off on their plans to co-locate a new school in the building. However, the Department of Education has ignored our request to meet with them and is instead pushing through with their proposal.

My biggest question is “what’s the rush?”

One of the first issues that needs to be addressed with the proposed co-location at Martin Van Buren High School is the lack of transparency in the process and the reasons the Department of Education is rushing to put in the second school. It seems the Bloomberg administration is rushing these co-locations before the next administration takes office.

The problem lies in that there is a clear disconnect between the Department of Education and the community. Parents, teachers, community leaders and students have only been consulted after the Department of Education issued its proposals. Parents and community members deserve to be informed and have greater involvement in the school’s decision-making process. I call for a more comprehensive and community-based plan in which all members of the community that are impacted by the change are able to be involved in the school Turnaround process. All of the schools dealing with the issue of co-location need to be thoroughly examined to determine if co-locating the school is the best plan for the school to thrive.

The proposed co-location would eliminate 500 seats at Martin Van Buren High School and create a new six-year school that would give students the option to earn two-year degrees from Queensborough Community College. There is no reason why Martin Van Buren High School can’t have this program integrated into the school’s curriculum.

If not well planned, having an additional school in the building can become a costly project that disrupts student learning and limits access to resources and school facilities. Often when schools undergo co-location, one of the schools receives preferential treatment. The issues that can arise from co-location are overcrowding, unsafe hallways, inadequate resources and tensions over sharing space and equipment with the other school in the building. The schools often have to compete for the use of shared areas such as cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums, playgrounds and hallways. The co-located school will take away essential resources from the traditional school, depriving students of school equipment and other resources.

We have seen far too many schools in experience co-location, resulting in underfunded programs, overcrowding classes, and ultimately a spiral of academic decline. Instead of co-locating struggling schools, let’s first discuss the option with the community and invest our time and resources into turning the school around. Martin Van Buren High School is one of the few community comprehensive high schools that provide real choices, with an exciting curriculum for students and the Queensborough Community College partnership program can be incorporated into the school. The students of our city deserve to be provided the best education possible and parents should have the choice for their child to attend one of the last comprehensive high schools in Queens.

Assemblymember David Weprin was elected in a Special Election in 2010. Weprin represents the same district represented by his father, the late Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, for 23 years and his brother Mark Weprin, for over 15 years.

 

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Two more schools may move into I.S. 59


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Make room – one Springfield Gardens school could be the home for hundreds of more students come next fall.

Intermediate School 59, located at 132-55 Ridgedale Street, is currently under capacity, utilizing about 60 percent of the building, according to enrollment statistics compiled by the Department of Education (DOE).

This year, the school will begin to house P.S. 176’s fourth and fifth grades for three years while its original site receives an addition. For the fall 2014, the Success Academy Charter School (SACS) has applied to gradually open up a kindergarten through eighth grade at I.S. 59 .

“I believe right now there’s room in the building based on their utilization, but when it gets to full capacity it’s questionable, and I think that’s the concern the community has right now,” said Dmytro Fedkowski, Queens representative on the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP).

If SACS’ proposal is approved, 150 to 210 kindergarten and first grade students will join the Ridgedale Street school. One grade will then be added each year until it reaches the eighth grade in the 2021 to 2022 school year. By then, the building will be at 88 to 101 percent capacity.

The PEP will vote to approve or reject the co-location at an October 30 meeting.

Historically, Fedkowski said, charter schools have been pegged as receiving better resources than public schools.

However, SACS said its principals prioritize the budget in a way that, for example, allows for fewer, but more effective, teachers and, in turn, better resources.

However, the community remains unconvinced.

“Things have a tendency to change when a charter comes in,” Fedkowski said. “They have this, they have that, and it creates that animosity and puts parents against parents. How do you fix that? I don’t know.”

Charter schools additionally do not get funding for a facility and seek to locate in under-utilized buildings, such as I.S. 59.

The well-reputed SACS operates 18 schools citywide. Four elementary schools were graded by the DOE for the 2011 to 2012 school year and all received an A.

“Success Academy is hopeful we can meet some of the overwhelming demand from local families for more high-quality public schools in their neighborhood,” said Kerri Lyon, SACS spokesperson.

Following the PEP vote, there is a 45-day period of public comment. The panel is made up of 13 members, eight appointed by the mayor and one chosen by each borough president.

I.S. 59 administration could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

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Four schools in Queens on the chopping block


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

schools

Four Queens schools are on the chopping block after receiving poor marks on the Department of Education’s (DOE) progress reports.

The four — I.S. 59, J.H.S 8, P.S. 140 and P.S./M.S. 156 — are from a list of roughly 40 borough schools that received low grades. Their fate was finalized after the department reviewed grades; past performance; quality reviews; plans already underway to improve the school; leadership performance and district and community needs. The four are part of a group of 36 schools citywide.

“We have begun conversations with 36 schools that we have identified as struggling. These are difficult conversations, but it’s important to have this dialogue and hold our schools to the highest of standards,” said DOE Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of what’s happening at these schools and give them the opportunity to talk about the challenges they face, the strategies and interventions already underway, and what strategies or interventions will be most meaningful to the school as they move forward.”

Conversations between the struggling schools and the DOE will continue, and within the coming weeks will be set for closure, or given a chance at redemption.