Tag Archives: new schools

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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City plans to put new schools inside Flushing, Newtown high schools


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Students in two overcrowded Queens schools could soon learn a lesson in sharing.

The city plans to place two new schools inside a scaled-down Flushing High School and an international school in Newtown High School, education officials said.

The existing Flushing High School building would house a small district high school and another Chinese bilingual school. A school to serve English language learners, preparing recently arrived immigrant students for college, would be added to Newtown in Elmhurst.

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

Enrollment is expected to fall in both congested schools by 2016, education officials said, as fewer incoming ninth graders are taken in. Under the plan, Flushing High School students will drop from 3,000 to 2,150 and Newtown High School will see a decline from 2,250 to 1,910.

The proposals will not affect current students, according to the DOE, but State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the struggling schools need time to improve. The change could also reduce the amount of financial aid each institution receives, she said.

“In this case, more is not better,” Stavisky said. “I think Flushing High School desperately needs the proper resources. Reducing the enrollment is not going to help because then fewer resources will be available.”

The senator said the schools would get 13 percent less “Fair Student Funding” from the city.

“Money isn’t everything, but the absence of money hurts,” she said. “They have to be given the opportunity to succeed.”
Flushing and Newtown were among seven high schools in Queens the city tried to close last year before the attempts were blocked by a court order.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the proposals on March 11. Panel members supported the city’s plans to shutter the schools last April.

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.

 

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Class in session: City to get 54 new schools, two in Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Spring may signify new beginnings, but schools will be “bloom”ing this fall.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on April 17 to announce the opening of 54 new schools across the city for the 2012-2013 school year. The new schools – 30 of which will be run by the district, along with 24 charters – will serve more than 7,000 students from kindergarten through high school next year, and over 21,000 kids when they grow to full size.

Of the 54 schools, two will be in Queens – Wave Preparatory School, an elementary school in District 27, will replace P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott, located at 535 Briar Place in Far Rockaway, and Central Queens Academy Charter School will open in District 24.

Including those slated to open this fall, 589 new schools have now been created in the five boroughs since 2002.

“Our children deserve great schools, our parents deserve great options, and our administration is committed to delivering them to families in every neighborhood in the five boroughs,” Bloomberg said. “The 54 new schools that will open next year reflect our commitment to children and parents, and they will build on the successful records established by the hundreds of new small schools we have already created. These new schools, including our new Academy for Software Engineering, which will train students not just in the language of computers but also in the language of innovation, will help prepare our students to succeed in the new global economy.”

According to the mayor’s office, evidence has indicated that new schools rank higher on parent satisfaction surveys than other schools across the city and perform better on state math and reading exams and graduate students at considerably higher rates than schools they replace. New schools also serve similar percentages of black and Latino students, English language learners and students with disabilities compared to the schools they replace.

Many of the new schools opened during the Bloomberg administration have followed the model of smaller schools – a strategy MDRC, a nonpartisan education and social policy research group, says “markedly improves graduation rates for a large population of low-income, disadvantaged students of color.”

“As we’ve seen over the past decade, new schools have changed thousands of lives in New York City for the better, helping more students graduate and prepare for college and careers,” Walcott said. “I want to thank all 54 new school principals, who have taken the bold step of building a new school community and offering families high quality options. Every child and every neighborhood deserve a great school, and we are proud to continue a strategy that has delivered just that for the past 10 years.”

DOE adding 6,000 seats in Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


With school congestion having hit the ceiling, the Department of Education (DOE) recently took a step towards giving students supplemental space to let their minds grow.

The DOE recently announced that roughly 6,000 new school seats will be created in Queens, easing overcrowding throughout the borough.

“Over the next two years we plan to add an additional 6,000 seats in Queens, recognizing the growing needs of students and families in the borough,” said DOE spokesperson Matt Mittenthal.

Four new schools will be opened in September 2012 – P.S./I.S. 277 in Jamaica, with 665 seats; Eagle Academy in Jamaica, with an undetermined number of seats; H.S. 585 in Elmhurst, which will house Maspeth High School and contain 1,119 seats; and Middle College High School in Long Island City, with 820 seats. An addition will also be built on P.S. 29 in College Point, accounting for 232 new seats.

“Obviously this is a step in the right direction,” said Nick Comaianni, president of Community Education Council (CEC) District 24, which covers mid-western Queens. “We need a lot of help in District 24. We are the most overcrowded district in the entire city of New York. We usually have 400 kindergartners that we don’t have seats for – who we try and find seats for all over the district and disperse them everywhere. Even with new seats allocated to us now we are still at the maximum, and as the class sizes are higher, it makes it harder for kids to learn.”

The DOE plans to add seats in the fall of 2013 as well, with four new schools opening – an elementary school in both Corona and East Elmhurst and an elementary school and joint intermediate and high school in Long Island City, accounting for a total of 2,448 seats – and two additions being constructed at Richmond Hill High School and P.S. 87 in Middle Village.

CEC 30 is scheduled to meet on March 15 to discuss the construction of I.S./H.S. 404 – slated to open in L.I.C. in 2013 with 1,071 seats.

“Any new schools that go up, we are excited,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of CEC 30. “We need them desperately. We can’t get enough seats in District 30, District 24 and in the entire western Queens area.”

Carmignani says his district is the second most crowded in the city, and with housing booming in L.I.C., there is no way to measure how many additional seats schools will soon require.

“There are high rises and housing developments constantly going up in Hunters Point,” he said. “We are building so much that we never know if we are getting enough seats for students.”

Leonie Haimson, executive director of the education advocacy group Class Size Matters, believes the DOE has grossly underestimated the degree of overcrowding in Queens schools.

“This is still not enough. What is interesting is that the DOE has admitted in the capital plan that they have severely underfunded the need in terms of how many seats should be built for Queens to accommodate enrollment growth,” said Haimson, who believes overcrowding can lead to academic failure and disciplinary issues. “They are underestimating the number of seats necessary to deal with overcrowding, huge class sizes and trailers that have outlived their usefulness. Our sense is that this is getting worse and not better.”