Tag Archives: Schools

Renderings reveal look of new P.S./I.S. 314 school in Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Department of Education


The School Construction Authority posted renderings of P.S./I.S. 314 in Jamaica, giving residents a glimpse into the future of a new school in the neighborhood. 

The school, which will be located on the corner of 164th Street and Hillside Avenue, is just one of many coming to the borough in the next few years to target overcrowding. It was approved by the City Council in 2011.

It will be four stories and approximately 113,092 square feet, according to city filings, and accommodate more than 830 students, from pre-K through the eighth-grade. It is expected to open in September 2015.

Gruzen Samton Architects of IBI Group designed the building, which is shaped like an “L” and organized into two main components: a four-story academic wing with classrooms, offices, a cafeteria and library, and a three-story public assembly wing, which houses the gymnasium and an auditorium.

To see more renderings of the project click here.

 

 

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Another round of snow, plus sleet, freezing rain target city


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Updated 3:35 p.m.

For the second time this week, the city is experiencing a bout of nasty winter weather.

After a Monday storm dropped eight inches of flakes in the borough, a system that hit late Tuesday night brought snow as well as sleet and freezing rain.

Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning, saying that localities in New York City and on Long Island have reported salt shortages. He said that 3,500 tons of the state’s supply of salt will be sent to those communities.

To expedite the salt deliveries, Cuomo said the DOT has waived federal restrictions on hours for salt truck drivers, and the MTA has waived weight restrictions on bridges.

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has the salt resources for this storm and for the next storm as it is projected.

De Blasio said the city is experiencing a blood shortage and encouraged New Yorkers to donate by calling 800-933-Blood or visiting www.nybloodcenter.org. He said he is planning to donate blood.

At the press conference he applauded city agencies’ response to the recent winter storms as well as New Yorkers’ toughness.

“This is a city that is no stranger to adversary,” the mayor said.

“Nobody likes days like today, but nobody handles days like today better than New Yorkers,” he added.

winter storm warning is in effect through 6 p.m. Wednesday, with three to five inches of snow predicted as well as about one quarter of an inch of ice, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The snow, which started Tuesday night, changed over to a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain by early Wednesday morning and eventually to just freezing rain. NWS reported 4 inches of snow in Central Park by 5 a.m. and 2.4 inches at LaGuardia Airport by 7:00 a.m.

The precipitation should taper off by tonight. Highs Wednesday will be in the low 30s.

Alternate side parking is suspended on Wednesday and Thursday to facilitate snow removal, but meters will still be in effect. Gar

The Department of Sanitation issued a ‘snow alert’ starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday and will be deploying its snow fighting equipment as needed.

To track the progress of DSNY clearing operations throughout the five boroughs, click here.

Garbage and recycling collection is canceled Wednesday, but should begin tomorrow.

A “hazardous travel advisory” is also in effect for the area Wednesday, the New York City Office of Emergency Management said.

At 8 a.m. Cuomo announced a ban on both commercial and passenger vehicles on Interstate 84 between the Pennsylvania and Connecticut borders, but lifted it by 2:20 p.m.

The mayor warned urged city residents Wednesday to use mass transit when possible and to leave extra travel time.

During the evening rush hour, the city’s subways and Long Island Rail Road will operate on normal schedules, the MTA said.

Buses will run at 85 to 90 percent capacity, but some detours, delays and suspensions are possible on a route-by-route basis.

As the rush hour winds down, subways will be stored underground on express tracks, and, as a result, express service on portions of some lines will be curtailed after rush hour, the MTA said. Subway customers should anticipate some weather-related delays

Fastrack maintenance has been canceled on the A and C lines in Brooklyn for the rest of the week.

The Metro-North Railroad will operate 75 percent of its normal evening rush hour schedule across all lines, and some local and express trains will be combined and will make additional stops, the MTA said.

Beginning at 9 p.m., Metro-North will go to hourly service for the remainder of the day.  On Thursday morning, it should operate at normal AM peak service.

The storm is causing few disruptions for the city’s public schools. Chancellor Carmen Farina announced early this morning that schools are open Wednesday. All field trips are canceled, but after-school activities and PSAL activties are continuing as scheduled.

Farina said, as of about 11:30 a.m., schools were reporting 60 percent attendance.

“We knew today that we could operate them safely and effectively,” de Blasio said about the decision to keep schools open.

But students could get another chance for a snow day on Monday. More snow is expected on Sunday.

Despite the constant storms, however, not everyone is tired of the weather.

“This is how winter weather is supposed to be. For me, it beats the heat and humidity, Jackson Heights resident Kimberly Rene Oser said.

I love this year’s weather. It’s winter, said Monika Slominska. “The only minus is, I have no driveway, therefore it’s difficult to find a parking spot with all the snow around.

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NYC public schools remain open Wednesday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The Department of Education will keep all public schools open Wednesday, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina  announced, as the city expects icy conditions from its second snowstorm this week.

All school field trips are canceled, however, Fariña said about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Families with busing issues are asked to call 718-392-8855.

Parents, as always, should exercise their own judgment with regard to their children,” the schools chancellor said. “Safety is a top priority for the department.”

Though the city has been slammed with snowstorms since the start of the year, public schools have only closed once on Jan. 3, during the year’s first major snowstorm.

They were kept open Jan. 22, during the next storm that left the city with almost a foot of snow.

The decision angered parents and students, especially at Bayside High School, where a shortage of teachers forced students to waste the day in the auditorium, The Courier reported.

Two to four inches of snow is predicted for the area, as well as about one third of an inch of ice, the National Weather Service said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned city residents of a “difficult morning commute.”

A “hazardous travel advisory” is in effect for the area Wednesday, the New York City Office of Emergency Management said. The Department of Sanitation  issued a ‘snow alert’ for Tuesday, starting at 10 p.m.

About eight inches were already dumped on the area Monday. Another storm is expected this weekend.

 

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Decision to keep NYC public schools open upsets parents


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Updated at 11:40 a.m.

MELISSA CHAN AND MAGGIE HAYES

All New York City public schools will remain open Wednesday, education officials announced, dashing hopes city students might have about getting a second snow day this month, and angering parents who had to send their kids off.

“Keeping my kids home. Unsafe and crazy to keep school open. Guarantee plenty are doing the same as well as teachers having a hard time getting in,” Margaret Gomez said on The Courier’s Facebook page.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made the call  Tuesday night at about 11:20 p.m., but warned “travel conditions may be difficult.”

“Families should exercise their own judgment when taking their children to school,” the notice said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he participated in the decision to keep schools open and that it was “the right thing to do.”

“We only close schools when it’s absolutely necessary,” he said. “We judged that we could go forward with school effectively today.”

School buses and mass transit are functioning “not perfectly, but well enough,” as of Wednesday morning, de Blasio said.

All after-school programs, field trips and PSAL games are also back to operating on a normal schedule, the schools chancellor announced.

The city closed public schools just a little more than two weeks ago on Jan. 3, during “Hercules,” the first major snowstorm of 2014.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday’s snow storm – with its predicted 10 to 14 inches of flakes and freezing temperatures – was on pace to be larger than the first.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning from 12 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday. The snow was not expected to taper off until 3 or 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Queens accumulated up to 11 inches of snow in some neighborhoods, according to the NWS.

 

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SNOW DAY: NYC public schools closed Friday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

All New York City public schools are closed Friday due to Snowstorm Hercules, education officials announced.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made the call to give city kids a snow day Jan. 3 shortly after 5 a.m. Friday field trips, PSAL games and after-school activities are also called off.

St. John’s University and Queensborough Community College has closed, as well, university officials said.

The first major snowstorm of 2014 so far has forced the temporary shutdown of the Long Island Expressway from the Queens/Nassau County border to Riverhead.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the ban on commercial and passenger vehicles will be extended until 8 a.m.

A winter storm warning has been issued until 1 p.m. Friday. About five to nine inches of snow are expected, with winds up to 35 mph, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Kew Gardens and South Ozone Park had accumulated more than 5 inches of snow as of 4 a.m., according to NWS. 



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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.

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.

Three Queens high schools face closure


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Three low-performing Queens high schools find themselves on the chopping block, including one school that was voted to close last year.

Twenty-four struggling schools are currently being considered for closure by the Department of Education (DOE) after poor performances and low grades on city progress reports. Borough institutions Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School, Law, Government and Community Service High School and Flushing High School, which narrowly avoided closing last year, were included on the shortlist.

Earlier this year the city released a list of 36 elementary and middle schools that also face closure.

“These are difficult but important conversations to have to ensure that we are holding our schools to the highest of standards,” said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg.

This is the second time in the past year Flushing faces the ax. In April, the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close 24 schools – seven in Queens – through a process called turnaround. The closures were later overruled when the United Federation of Teachers won a court challenge saving Flushing and the 23 other schools.

The current list of two dozen high schools may be whittled down as the DOE continues their evaluations.

“We’ll take the feedback that we receive from the school and community into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and we will continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options,” Sternberg said.

Inclusion on this year’s list was based on past performance, quality reviews and progress reports, which the DOE released Monday.

Overall, Queens schools fared better on the reports this year earning nine more A’s and B’s than last year. No schools received an F and only five received D’s, including the three schools that may be forced to close their doors.

Grades on the sixth annual progress reports were based on standardized test performance, students attendance, progress toward graduation and parent, teacher and student surveys.

“By measuring how well our schools prepare students for college and careers, the Progress Reports shine a light on the importance of increased rigor as a bridge to future success,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

 

*Schools without grades are closing or did not have enough data to receive them.

 

Students affected by Sandy can now takes classes online


| brennison@queenscourier.com

With several schools still closed scattering students throughout the city, the Department of Education announced a plan permitting kids to go to school without leaving home.

Enrollment for online courses opened yesterday allowing students displaced from their homes or forced to travel to a new school after Sandy to return to class. Core subjects and electives will be offered for students in grades six through 12.

Though 96 percent of school buildings have reopened since the storm, many students still face difficulties returning to class.

“Some of our families have not been able to return to their homes, and the impact on students demands more resources to ensure they get the education they need. These online courses will help keep our students on track for their academic success,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Those without internet in their homes can visit a local library for access to the online classes.

Teachers experienced in online learning will teach the courses, the DOE said, which will be an extension of the department’s iZone program.

Sandy leaves students, parents scrambling


| editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ALEXA ALTMAN AND MAGGIE HAYES

Kids may have received an unscheduled week-long vacation from school after Sandy, but they returned to a system turned upside down.

Roughly 79 schools across Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island suffered structural damage, 13 lost power and nearly 70 boilers required repairs.

Students from 43 damaged schools citywide were relocated, some further from home than parents would have preferred.

P.S. 146 PTA President Terri Fonal was still without a temporary facility for her two children, third grader Kasey and sixth grader Matthew, a week-and-a-half after the storm hit and damaged their Howard Beach school. Late on the night of Wednesday, November 7, Fonal received a call from the Department of Education (DOE), alerting her that her children could attend classes at Spring Creek Educational Campus in Brooklyn the following day. Fonal said it was a lack of information that caused parents to panic.

“That’s why a lot of parents were so up in arms because [the DOE was] telling us one thing and doing something else,” said Fonal. “From the beginning we were told they were [trying] to fix the school but there was a possibility they may be relocated. There were a lot of parents who didn’t know what was happening.”

According to Fonal, only 90 kids attended class at their temporary school at Spring Creek Educational Campus on Thursday, a significantly steep decline from their typical student body of about 600. She decided against sending her kids to school, saying the storm caused too much confusion already.

Published reports show 200,000 students citywide were absent that same Thursday.

Of the 8,000-bus fleet serving the New York City school system, 700 were out of service in the week after the storm, affecting students’ commutes to school. Last week, the DOE began distributing MetroCards to displaced students and their parents to smooth their journey to their new location.

“We will continue to work hard to make sure schools are back online and get kids back to their home schools,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at a meeting to brief faculty and parents about changes due to Sandy at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Long Island City.

Some schools acted as shelters for Sandy victims, including Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, which had over 100 refugees staying on campus full time as of last week. Some of these shelters had sanitary and hygiene problems. Brooklyn’s John Jay High School was plagued by a brief bout of stomach virus that was quickly eliminated. The school has since undergone a thorough cleansing and been signed off on by the Department of Health (DOHMH).

To help get damaged schools back to normal, the City Council approved a $200 million grant to city schools. P.S. 207 in Howard Beach — one of 23 school buildings housing 37 schools closed for repairs – requires new oil tanks and electrical wiring.

After missing two weeks of classes, P.S. 146 students were eager to return to their home school.

“The kids were very excited to go back,” said Fonal. “They missed their friends, they missed their teachers. They needed to go back to the routine.”

The DOE is undecided as to how students will make up days missed due to the storm.

City to shell out $500 million to repair schools, hospitals damaged by Sandy


| brennison@queenscourier.com

To hasten the process of restoring city schools and hospitals to pre-Sandy conditions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $500 million emergency plan to repair buildings damaged during the storm.

The New York City Health and Hospital Corporation will receive $300 million while $200 million will be appropriated to the Department of Education.

More than $130 million has already been approved for emergency spending in disaster relief.

The announcement was made at P.S. 207 in Howard Beach, one of 23 school buildings that remain closed after Sandy.

“These school buildings and public hospitals are resources that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers rely on every day — and we are not waiting for federal aid to begin the work of repairing and re-opening them. This emergency capital spending is vital investment in our recovery and future,” Bloomberg said.

Comptroller John Liu said the city’s finances can withstand the payment, but that he will work to recover the funds from FEMA.

The city council will vote on the plan tomorrow.

 

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Weather

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 54. Northwest wind 13 to 16 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 43. Northwest wind 7 to 10 mph.

Event of the Day: William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”

E Phoenix Idealis Theater, Inc. delivers this classic story for a modern audience. Directed by Rachel Alt and Ben Fabrizi, it opens November 9 for a limited run at the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point. Find our more or view more events

Gas rationing begins today in NYC

More than a week into the gas shortage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an emergency order rationing gas to begin Friday morning at 6. Cars with license plates ending in odd numbers or a letter will be able to purchase gas on odd numbered days; vehicles with plates ending in even numbers can purchase on even numbered days. Read more: Queens Courier

Housing Authority scrambling to restore power to 11 developments in Queens and Brooklyn by this weekend

The Housing Authority is scrambling to restore power by this weekend to 11 developments in Queens and Brooklyn that went dark more than a week ago. It doesn’t look promising. NYCHA Chairman John Rhea on Wednesday said he hoped to accomplish this, but a day later Mayor Bloomberg was saying, “I’m not sure we can make it.” Read more: Daily News

Residents displaced by Sandy are staring at life in Staten Island ‘jail’

The state is eyeing the recently shuttered Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island as a temporary home for people displaced by the ravages of Sandy and this week’s nasty nor’easter, officials said yesterday. Closed last December, the medium-security prison could feed and sleep as many as 900 people with nowhere else to go. Read more: NY Post

Students in displaced schools can now attend nearest school they can get to

On Thursday, for the first time since Oct. 26, every New York City public school was open. But nearly 200,000 students were still out, like a Coney Island third grader whose school building was damaged and relocated miles away in Bensonhurst. His elderly grandmother couldn’t get him to the new site. Read more: NY1

Personal items battered by Sandy litter temp landfill in Jacob Riis Park

Baby toys, photo albums, broken china—these are just some precious items that can be found in fast rising heaps of waste at a temporary landfill in Jacob Riis Park. Debris from storm battered Far Rockaway has been piling up at the park’s parking lot –by thousands of tons a day—thanks to sanitation workers who have been clearing thrash and sand-clogged streets. Read more: NY Post

Iran fires at U.S. drone over Persian Gulf, but misses: Pentagon

Iranian attack aircraft fired multiple rounds at an unarmed U.S. drone in international airspace over the Persian Gulf last week, the Pentagon revealed Thursday. The rounds missed. But the incident — the first known attempt by Iranian warplanes to take out a U.S. drone — added intrigue to the extremely tense relationship between between America and Iran. Read more: Daily News

65 Queens schools to remain closed Monday


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

While a majority of city students will return to school after a week off due to Hurricane Sandy, some buildings sustained significant damage in the storm and are still not ready to hold classes.

Forty-six Queens schools will remain closed on Monday and will not reopen until Wednesday, November 7; 19 others will be relocated to a temporary location beginning Wednesday.

Robo-calls have already been going out to parents letting them know of the changes.  Principals and parent coordinators have also reached out to parents.

Some of the relocated schools will be split among several temporary sites.

Click here to see which schools remain closed or will be relocated.

The Department of Education is working on providing busing for students heading to the relocated schools.

Schools with power but without heat will open on Monday.

“Some of the buildings may not have heat, some of the school buildings, and they’ve been without heat for a while, so please dress your children with that in mind. If the schools were dangerously cold we obviously wouldn’t open them, but if they’re chilly, extra sweaters for the kids is something that should make some sense,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

 

 

East River bridges closed to cars with less than 3 passengers; Schools to reopen Monday


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Those who want to enter Manhattan by car over one of the East River bridges will need to bring at least two other passengers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the restrictions at his press conference updating residents on the city’s response to the storm.

The restriction — which will be enforced by the NYPD — will be in effect between 6 a.m. and midnight on Thursday and Friday to ease traffic in the city and will only apply to cars going to Manhattan, not leaving.

Some other updates from the Bloomberg press conference:

  • FDNY search and recovery missions are continuing in the Rockaways with workers going house to house. “Hopefully they will not discover any more tragedies,” said Bloomberg.
  • Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the week and will reopen on Monday.
  • Parks are still off-limits to the public as they are being inspected and will likely reopen this weekend.
  • The Sanitation Department is collecting trash and removing debris; recycling collection is postponed until further notice.
  • 125 senior centers will be open tomorrow.

City schools closed Monday, possibly Tuesday


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

With the city’s transportation shutting down tonight, the mayor also announced the closure of schools on Monday.

Heavy rains and strong winds have also forced evacuations of low-lying areas throughout the five boroughs.

“Due to anticipated inclement weather conditions from Hurricane Sandy, all New York City public schools will be closed to students tomorrow, October 29. Administrative offices will be open. All after-school activities and Public Schools Athletic League events will also be cancelled. We are asking that school staff and employees assigned to a shelter site to report to their posts,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

A decision has yet to be made regarding school openings on Tuesday, though the mayor said he hopes that children will be able to return by then.