Tag Archives: NYC schools

Department of Education: Gifted and talented classes will stay


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The Department of Education (DOE) has decided to withdraw its controversial plan to cut the gifted and talented classes at P.S. 122. after last week’s meeting with concerned parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30.

“We’ve listened, and we know what an exceptional job P.S. 122 is doing with its G&T middle school students,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “We’re going to take more time to think through the challenge, consider ways to ensure equity and excellence for all families, and re-engage with the community in the future.”

Since the announcement of the plan in February, members of District 30 and local officials have protested against the idea to reduce the classes at The Academy, a prestigious middle school gifted and talented program, in order to expand

P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade.

“I am thrilled that the exemplary academic program at P.S. 122 will be preserved moving forward,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “P.S. 122 is a gem in our community that should be allowed to continue improving the lives of the children and parents of Astoria for years to come.”

Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent who now sees a brighter future for her son and daughter, is excited to work with the DOE and discuss any upcoming proposed changes.

“It was truly amazing to see people from every corner of District 30 to come together for a common cause and it worked and it gives me a lot of hope going forward,” said Alexander.

Alexander hopes their victory will give hope to other communities going through similar circumstances and who might feel like they are in a David and Goliath situation.

“Sometimes David does win,” said Alexander.

 

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Schools Chancellor Walcott meets with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ana Musmat Alam

True to his word, Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott met with parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30 to talk about the proposed cuts to the prestigious gifted and talented program at P.S. 122.

“When families have a great experience in their school, we celebrate that and we appreciate the thoughtful way that parents at P.S. 122 approached this proposal,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

The meeting came after the concerned and outraged community members confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy in Brooklyn on March 20, where he agreed to meet with them at a later date.

For over a month, the members have been getting together to speak out against the DOE’s plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade at the expense of fewer classes for the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“We are feeling optimistic that the DOE has heard that the District 30 community has not asked for and does not want a change to our balances and harmonious district structure,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent. “At the end of it, we feel like we could not have laid our case out any better. Logic should dictate what they do now.”

According to Alexander, although Walcott did not say much at the meeting, he was apologetic in not contacting the community earlier, applauded the community’s advocacy and said he would get back to them within a week with some answers.

“The Chancellor listens – he did that at his meeting with P.S. 122 parents, as he does with school communities across the city. We will incorporate the feedback we received, and will ultimately make a decision that best balances equity and excellence for students in this district,” said Puglia.

Alexander hopes a decision will be made by April 17, when parents have to submit their ranking for gifted and talented schools for their children.

“Fix the rule, don’t fix the school,” said Alexander.

 

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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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Schools Chancellor Walcott to meet with parents over gifted and talented cuts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Isaac Carmignani

After weeks protesting proposed cuts to the gifted and talented program at P.S. 122, the voices of the parents in District 30 have finally been heard by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The parents, along with other concerned and outraged school and community members, confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy meeting in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, March 20, where the chancellor agreed to meet with them at a later date to go over the changes.

“We are feeling cautiously optimistic, given the chancellor’s previous thoughtful interactions with parents from District 30,” said Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent whose son, Augustus, is set to attend the prestigious program in middle school. “A united community can really make a change.”

The group of District 30 parents has been getting together for over a month to speak against the Department of Education’s (DOE) plans to extend P.S. 122’s general education classes from the fifth to eighth grade, cutting down classes at the gifted and talented middle school program, The Academy.

“It’s just the first step, but we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished and thrilled that the chancellor listened and heard us,” said Alexander.

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. These changes would go into effect in 2019 and would begin with this fall’s incoming kindergarten class.

The DOE has stated that the changes are required in order to allow each student the chance to stay in the same K-8 until they finish middle school.

The meeting between parents and the chancellor was confirmed by DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia, yet no date has been set.

“Chancellor Walcott and his team are very responsive and listen closely to feedback from families. We look forward to meeting with this community once again and articulating our rationale for this plan: equity and fairness for all students,” said Puglia in a statement.

Yet, worried the meeting will not bring negotiations, as the parents wait for the date to be announced they will be filing a petition with the State Education Commissioner.

“The day we can withdraw that petition because the DOE has heard the unified voice of District 30 will be a joyful day,” said Alexander.

 

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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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New schools to ease overcrowding in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of SCA

Two new schools will help alleviate overcrowding in Jackson Heights and Corona in the next two years, according to the School Construction Authority (SCA).

The first school, P.S. 287, is scheduled to debut this September at 110-08 Northern Boulevard in Corona. Located in District 24, the four-story building will serve pre-K through fifth grade and have a 420 student capacity, said the SCA.

I.S. 297 will be completed by September 2014 at 33-55 74th Street in Jackson Heights as part of District 30. The school is expected to have four floors, serve sixth through eighth grade and have a 400 student capacity.

“These two new schools, together with the ground we broke on the addition to P.S. 70, will go a long way towards easing overcrowding in western Queens schools. But, there is still more work to be done,” said Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr.

District 30 has been in need of more schools to keep up with a growing population, school leaders said.

“The more crowded it is, the harder it is to get things done, even with parents picking their kids up,” said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the District 30 Community Education Council. “Anytime we get seats, anytime we get schools, it’s good for us. We’re grateful for anything that we are given.”

Overcrowding has also been a problem in District 24 as school construction failed to keep up with the growing population of families, especially new immigrants looking to make the neighborhoods in the district their home, according to InsideSchools.org.

“I have been in constant contact with the Department of Education to ensure that a comprehensive plan is established to address the overcrowding in my district,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.

Last March, the department announced it would add 6,000 new school seats over the next two years in order to ease overcrowding in the borough.

According to the SCA, along with the brand-new school buildings, P.S. 287 will have two playgrounds at the back of the school. I.S. 297’s playground will be located on land purchased by the city across the street from the school.

 

I.S. 297 rendering 

 

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Queens Village high school students paint over the past


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Students at a struggling Queens Village high school are painting over their past, one locker at a time.

Historical figures, sprawled across obsolete lockers at Martin Van Buren High School, have become symbolic of the new face of the changing school, students and administration said.

“We’re basically trying to paint a picture of a whole new Van Buren,” said art teacher Antonio Montalvo. “We want to create a more welcoming, lighter learning environment. We’re trying to improve.”

Van Buren found itself in the public eye last year when local leaders and parents rallied to replace former principal Marilyn Shevell. Morale plummeted under her leadership, they said, while Van Buren worsened in progress reports. Shevell retired last June after taking over in 2002, education officials said. Since then, interim acting principal Sam Sochet said the school has risen to the challenge of improving.

“Van Buren, at one time, was one of the top schools in the city,” Sochet said. “It has fallen on some harder times recently, and so we’re looking to rediscover the greatness that it used to have and maybe go beyond it.”

An art inclusion class, led by Montalvo, chose scientists Albert Einstein and Alexander Fleming, psychologist Carl Jung and former United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to represent the search for greatness, Sochet said. The project team of 30 students took two months to paint a mural of their caricatures across nearly 90 lockers on the school’s second floor.

“They’re old figures, but they do represent people who worked really hard, people who broke traditional thinking, who really thought outside the box,” Sochet said. “And that’s the idea. These are examples of what the human spirit is capable of.”

The display also promotes Van Buren’s newest college-ready science programs or “majors” for incoming freshmen, said Sanjay Patel, the school’s director of specialized programs.

Graduating middle school applicants can apply to Van Buren’s revamped engineering program, which features the school’s robotics team, or its pre-med, law and forensics, or computer technology programs, Patel said.

“There are a lot of careers available in these areas, and we’re trying to prepare students,” said Assistant Principal Cathy Kross.

Van Buren received a “C” in the Department of Education’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 last year’s “D.”

“The change is happening, although sometimes it’s very difficult to detect,” Sochet said.

Junior Jeshu Dastidar, a first-time honor roll student this year, said the school’s new environment has revived his passion for learning.

“In the last two years, school really wasn’t really in my interest,” said Dastidar, 16. “But this year, the first day I went to class, I was feeling this rhythm. Something was in the air. The school has changed. Grades have gone up tremendously for me personally.”

 

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Millions lost after teacher evaluation talks fail


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

City school students just got a hard lesson in how not to compromise.

Millions of dollars in education money was lost after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) failed to agree on a teacher evaluation system.

They had until midnight on January 18 to reach a deal or schools would forfeit $250 million in state education aid and be ineligible for $200 million in education grant funds.

“Since we established one of the strongest teacher evaluation models in the nation last year, 98 percent of school districts have successfully implemented them,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo as the deadline approached. “The remaining districts and their unions have until midnight tonight to do the same or they will forfeit the increase in education aid they have been counting on and both parties will have failed the children they serve.”

Each side of the negotiation table blamed the other for the stalemate.

The UFT said that Bloomberg had blown the teacher evaluation deal after they had reached an agreement in the early hours of January 17.

“Despite long nights of negotiation and a willingness on the part of teachers to meet the Department of Education halfway — the intransigence of the Bloomberg administration on key issues has made it impossible to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

“Thousands of parents have gotten a lesson this week, as the mayor’s ‘my way or the highway’ approach has left thousands of schoolchildren stranded at curbs across the city by the school bus strike,” he added.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, said that every time the two parties approached a deal, the UFT “moved the finish line back.”

“Instead of working with us to tie up the loose ends of this agreement, they continued to insert unrelated, extraneous issues into these negotiations. The effect was to set the talks back, time and time again,” said the mayor.

According to Bloomberg, there were three areas of disagreement.

The UFT wanted the agreement to end in June 2015. That condition would have made the evaluation system “meaningless,” said the mayor, because the process of removing ineffective teachers takes two years.

Also, the union wanted to double the number of arbitration hearings for teachers who file grievances over the evaluation process and wanted to change the method of scoring the evaluations.

If he had agreed to those stipulations, said Bloomberg, then it would more difficult to “weed out ineffective teachers.”

What both sides did agree on was that the students have suffered the biggest loss.

 

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School bus strike may end this week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The school bus driver walkout that began Wednesday may be over as soon as early this week.

According to the New York Daily News, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is expected to rule on a formal complaint from the private bus companies that provide the yellow bus service.

Those bus companies are claiming that the strike is illegal and that they are being financially punished because of it.

If the NRLB rules on the side of the bus companies, then drivers could be back to work as early as Tuesday.

On January 16, drivers from Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union walked off the job, affecting 152,000 students, including 54,000 with disabilities.

In an effort to cut costs,  the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years. The union is objecting to the lack of  job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.

The city’s last school bus strike, in 1979, lasted 14 weeks.

 

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School attendance improves on bus strike’s second day, but not for disabled students


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Alexa Altman

Although parents and students had to scramble to get their children to school this week because of the bus strike, more reportedly made it to class on the second day of the walkout.

But for many disabled students, it hasn’t been as easy. Their attendance is still significantly lower.

“I can’t take him on the subway because there are no elevators, and I can’t take a cab because his wheelchair doesn’t fold up,” Carmen Padilla, whose 18-year-old son is a paraplegic and has cerebral palsy, told the Daily News.

Have your children been absent or had difficulties getting to school because of the strike?  Comment below and tell us how the bus driver walkout has affected you.

 

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Parents fight potential cuts to after-school programs


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Amanda Dimick, a single mother of four, couldn’t hold back her tears as she spoke of what the after-school child care Beacon Program means to her and her boys.

“I find myself spreading myself thin between my four children,” she said, as her voice cracked. “I don’t know what I would do without the [Beacon] program.”

All across the city, the group Campaign for Children is teaming up with after-school programs and calling for long-term investment from elected officials to create stable, sustainable, high-quality child care.

According to the Campaign, city-funded child care programs, such as Beacon, face “constant uncertainty and instability.”

Last year, after-school programs faced a potential $170 million budget cut, but the Campaign and its partnering programs prevailed, restoring the full budget, after dozens of citywide rallies, phone calls and letters to elected officials. This year, although no budget cuts have been announced yet, the Campaign is calling for the same.

“[Beacon] enables me to put in more time at work,” said Dimick at a town hall meeting at the Queens Community House Beacon on Wednesday, January 17.

Dimick, whose four boys are all under 12 years old, said that when she needs to spend time focusing on work, she knows she can rely on the staff to be valuable role models for her children.

“They say it takes a community to raise a child, and that’s definitely been my situation,” she said.

“I’m going to fight for you,” assured Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, who was a single parent of two and said that after-school programs “saved her” when she had to go to work.

“This mayor has to recognize that our children are very important,” she added.

Warren Fink lives with just his 11-year-old daughter, Miriam, who has been going to the Beacon program for years.

“When I wake up in the morning, I need a purpose,” he said. “And my purpose is my daughter. [At Beacon,] I feel that my daughter is surrounded by wonderful people, and she’s learning as she’s growing.”

Fink spoke for many parents when he said that closing the program puts much more pressure on working parents, and could potentially put the kids on the streets after school.

The next step for the Campaign and concerned parents is to make their voices heard, and ensure that long-term investments are made in child care and after-school programs.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast. High of 43. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Thursday Night: Overcast with a chance of snow and a chance of rain. Low of 27 with a windchill as low as 19. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: After the Fall

Veteran production company Variations Theatre Group has found a new home at the former US Chain Factory site in Long Island City, which once housed a photo development facility and a plant for industrial syringes. Variations launches with After the Fall, one of Arthur Miller’s most autobiographical works, intimately exploring his failed marriage to Marilyn Monroe and her subsequent suicide. January 17 to February 2, 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Astoria lawmaker to propose bill to make it harder for bikini bars and strip clubs to get liquor licenses

A seedy Astoria bikini bar called Queen of Hearts has failed to capture the hearts of local leaders fed up with the number of adult establishments seeking to open in the area. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City school bus driver strike enters 2nd day

A standoff between striking school bus drivers and aides looking for job protections and a city administration that says they just can’t have it has the potential to go on for some time, observers said, as parents scrambled for a second day to figure out alternatives for tens of thousands of students who need to get to school. Read more: ABC New York

Deadline imminent for city teacher evaluation system

Today is the deadline for the city to figure out how to rate its school teachers, but as of last night there is still no deal in place between the city Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers. Read more: NY1

Rockway parish that helped victims of Sandy now needs help itself

When Superstorm Sandy slammed the Rockaways, St. Francis de Sales in Belle Harbor served as a haven for its flood and fire-ravaged community. Read more: New York Daily News

Feds round up 30 in massive metro-area mob sweep

Thirty-two people were charged today in connection with a long-running federal investigation into continued Mafia control of the private garbage-hauling industry. Read more: New York Post

NRA chief says group accepts background checks

The head of the National Rifle Association says the organization has no problem with tighter background checks of gun purchasers. Read more: AP

Study: 20K ER visits linked to energy drinks in 2011

A new government study is calling popular energy drinks “a rising public health problem” that is sending more and more people to the emergency rooms. Read more: ABC News

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Overcast with ice pellets and snow, then a chance of snow and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 41. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 90% . Wednesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Quintet of the Americas’ Crystal Winter Concert 

Crystal Winter, a concert performed by Quintet of the Americas at the  Catholic Charities Bayside Senior Center, features projected images of crystals, snowflakes, winter scenes and Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. Songs will include Adam Schoenberg’s Winter Music, Sammy Cahn’s Let it Snow, Quintet of the Americas’ improvisation Starry Night, Silver Bells and more. Audience members will also have the opportunity join the Quintet playing bells, water glasses keys. Concert starts at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

House approves $50.7 B in Sandy aid

Sandy victims are one step closer to receiving the relief money they need. After $9.7 billion in flood insurance funds were signed into law earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an additional $50.7 billion in aid. Read more: Queens Courier

NY passes toughest gun laws in country

Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to make New York the leader in gun safety, the State Legislature voted in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE Act, that would effectively keep weapons away from the mentally ill and crack down on illegal guns. Read more: Queens Courier

Elderly Queens man beaten on J train

An elderly Queens man says he was beaten while riding the subway in Brooklyn last month and police are now looking for the suspect, who was captured on newly-released surveillance video. Read more: NBC New York

Parents scramble on eve Of NYC’s first school bus strike in 33 years

New York City school bus drivers were just hours from walking off the job Tuesday night, and thousands of parents were scrambling to find alternate transportation. Read more: CBS New York

Base of spire installed on roof of 1 WTC

Workers at the rising 1 World Trade Center on Tuesday installed the first piece of the spire that will make the 104-floor skyscraper the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. Read more: ABC New York

One man dies, one hurt minutes apart at New York subway station

One New York man was killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents just minutes apart at a Manhattan station during Tuesday’s rush-hour, authorities said. Read more: Reuters 

Quinn presents vision for improving New York City schools

Christine C. Quinn, the New York City Council speaker and a presumptive candidate for mayor, laid out in a speech on Tuesday a series of proposals for improving the city’s schools, which included replacing textbooks with computer tablets, creating online resources for parents and extending the school day for many students. Read more: New York Times

Obama to unveil gun violence measures Wednesday

President Barack Obama’s broad effort to reduce gun violence will include proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as more than a dozen executive orders aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to stricter gun control. Read more: AP

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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NYC school bus drivers won’t strike Monday, but walkout still possible


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

After threatening to strike, New York City school bus drivers were back to work Monday, but they could still walk off the job within the next few days.

A strike would affect 152,000 students, including 54,000 with disabilities, and those in public, private and parochial schools.

“The union is asking for something we cannot legally deliver and are putting a central and necessary service at risk,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “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.”

In an effort to cut costs,  the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years.

New York City spends $1.1 billion, or $6,900 per student, on busing each year. That figure is more than any other school district in the country and almost double what the country’s second largest school district, Los Angeles, spends.

Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 9,000 drivers, is objecting to the lack of  job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.

“I’ve been working 35 years driving kids to school in the Bronx, and now you’re going to tell me, ‘You don’t have a job no more’?” 67-year-old union member Rick Meli told the Wall Street Journal. “How do you tell this many people they could lose their jobs?”

If a strike does happen, the city will robocall affected families.

Additionally, students and parents with children in pre-school to 2nd grade or with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and require transportation from their home directly to their school will receive free MetroCards. Parents who receive yellow bus service from their homes or are in grades K through 6 and do not live in areas where public transportation between home and school is available, can request reimbursement for transportation costs.

“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,” said Walcott.

 

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