Tag Archives: Schools

Senator Gillibrand visits Elmhurst to call for healthier school meals


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

As the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) is set to expire at the end of next month, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Elmhurst on Monday to call for its renewal and defend the availability of healthy breakfasts and lunches at public schools across America.

Gillibrand, along with Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and hunger advocates, came to I.S. 5 seeking greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables at schools, as well as expanding the amount of students eligible for a summer meal program.

“Class hasn’t started yet but we are already hard at work to make sure our children receive nutritious meals they need to thrive, both during the school year and during summer break,” Gillibrand said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure our children are well-fed.”

The HHFKA will expire on Sept. 30, and as Congress prepares to debate renewing the programs within the act, Gillibrand is advocating for preserving the existing nutrition standards including the requirement of fresh fruits vegetables every day; improving student participation rates in the School Breakfast Program; strengthening the ties between farmers, producers and meal service providers by bolstering farm-to-school programs; and helping school nutrition professionals meet their standard requirements, support peer mentorship programs and provide grants for improved kitchen equipment.

The HHFKA was a landmark piece of legislation that required school lunches to contain at least a one-half cup serving of fresh fruit and vegetables in order to be eligible for federal reimbursement.

“As a mother of two young boys who attend public school in Queens and as founder and co-chair of the Congressional Kids Safety Caucus, I know firsthand how important the fight for accessible and proper nutrition is,” Meng said.

In addition, Gillibrand is advocating to give more children the ability to access healthy summer meals by expanding access to the USDA Summer Food Service Program, as well as reducing barriers and making it easier for existing afterschool meal providers to sponsor Summer Meal Programs.

“Here in New York there are 1.7 million children who rely on this school meal,” Gillibrand said. “And over the summer, less than one-third of our kids can actually access those meals.”

Gillibrand’s Summer Meals Act would lower the threshold to allow areas with 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced lunch to be eligible for the program, down 10 percent from the current threshold of 50 percent. This would add 3.2 million children into eligibility.

“Our free summer meals program provides every child in the city the chance to eat healthy, nutritious food every day and that is critical for their development,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement. “By offering meals free of charge at accessible locations throughout the five boroughs, we are meeting families where they are and helping children continue good habits over the summer.”

Gillibrand’s legislation would provide children with transportation to summer meal sites, offer the option of an additional meal to children who attend evening programs, as well as reducing the paperwork for meal program sponsors that want to participate in the program.

“What the senator is doing here is bringing national attention to the fact that if you don’t have the tools to succeed, if we don’t give children the tools that they need, and those tools are more than books and pens and a classroom with wonderful teachers,” Katz said. “Those tools are also the nutrition that children need in order to focus, in order to have attention, in order to be able to succeed in life.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New tax credit bill to widen ‘parental choice in education’


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor/Kevin P. Coughlin

Looking to give parents greater choice as to where they send their children to school, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday legislation creating tax incentives for private education.

Cuomo was joined by Cardinal Timothy Dolan and elected officials, as well as parents and students, to call on the legislature to pass the Parental Choice in Education Act during this session, which concludes in June.

“Education is the greatest gift that a parent can give to their children—and it is also one of the most personal decisions that a parent can make,” Cuomo said. “That’s why we need to support parental choice in education.”

The Parental Choice in Education Act aims to support and protect alternative schooling options for parents and students across the state. It calls for $150 million in education tax credits annually that would provide tax credits to low-income families who send their children to non-public schools; scholarships to low- and middle-income students to attend either an out-of-district public school or a non-public school; incentives to public schools for enhanced educational programming, such as after-school programs; and tax credits to public school teachers for the purchase of supplies.

“By rewarding donations that support public schools, providing tax credits for teachers when they purchase classroom supplies out of pocket and easing the financial burden on families who send their children to independent, parochial or out-of-district public schools, we can make a fundamental difference in the lives of students, families and educators across the state,” the governor continued. “The legislature must pass this act this year, because families deserve a choice when it comes to their child’s education.”

More than 400,000 children attend non-public schools across New York State. Many parochial schools in New York State, however, are facing financial hardships. More than 75 parochial schools have closed in the last five years statewide, and average tuition costs and reach as high as $8,500 annually per student.

“This is not just a Catholic issue — it is an issue for every parochial, private or non-public school that is devoted to the success of their students,” Dolan said. “Our students are our greatest treasure and the Parental Choice in Education Act is all about supporting them no matter where they go to school.”

The Parental Choice in Education Act’s Family Choice Education Credit will provide $70 million in credits to approximately 82,000 families of non-public school students across the state, benefiting nearly 140,000 children. Families with incomes below $60,000 per year would qualify for up to $500 per student for tuition expenses to non-public and out-of-district public schools.

Additional tax credits in the bill would fund $67 million in scholarships to help low-income families afford private education for their students. Individuals and businesses can receive a tax credit for up to 75 percent of their donations made to non-for-profit organizations that award scholarships to students in grades pre-K through 12.

Educational improvement programs would also receive a $27 million boost. Individuals and businesses will be able to apply for a total of $20 million in tax credits for up to 75 percent of their donations made to public schools and non-for-profits that support public schools’ educational programs.

Finally, instructional materials and supplies credits totaling $10 million would provide $200 per public school teacher to support the purchase of instructional materials and supplies. This credit will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Hoping for Lunar New Year holiday, lawmakers move to end Brooklyn-Queens Day


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File photo

State lawmakers introduced on Tuesday a bill that would eliminate Brooklyn-Queens Day from the New York City public school calendar.

The measure sponsored by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky aims to clear a day on the calendar to permit public schools to close for the Asian Lunar New Year in the winter. Brooklyn-Queens Day, which falls on the first Thursday of June, marks the foundation of the first Sunday schools in both boroughs during the 19th century.

For decades, local Protestant churches celebrated Brooklyn-Queens Day with parades through their communities, but the parades stopped in recent years as Protestant congregations plummeted. The last major Brooklyn-Queens Day parade took place in Ridgewood in 2009, ending a century-long tradition.

Nevertheless, schools in Brooklyn and Queens remain closed the first Thursday of June, but many of them use the day for staff development.

The bill states that “there is no reason to continue this anachronistic holiday in state statutes when there is pressure to increase the time students spend in school.” However, Stavisky noted, the elimination of Brooklyn-Queens Day gives the city Department of Education (DOE) flexibility in adding another holiday such as Asian Lunar New Year.

“As a former teacher, I understand the mayor and the Department of Education have a mandate to make sure students are receiving as much classroom instructional time as possible,” Stavisky said. “But educating our students and allowing them to observe important cultural holidays should not be opposing goals. I believe that removing the now defunct Brooklyn-Queens Day and replacing it with the Lunar New Year is a pragmatic solution that the mayor and the Department of Education must consider.”

Among those who joined Stavisky at a Tuesday press conference in Flushing in support of the bill were state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymen Ron Kim and Edward Braunstein, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and City Councilman Peter Koo.

“The history of Brooklyn-Queens Day demonstrates how observance of this day on the public school calendar has changed over the years to meet the changing demographics of our city,” Koo said. “Today, approximately 15 percent of our New York City public school students identify as Asian-American, and we must take this into consideration as we prepare the school calendar for future years.”

According to Stavisky’s office, city public schools in Asian-majority neighborhoods report absentee rates as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year, which is “the most important cultural celebration on the Asian calendar.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation declaring two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as school holidays beginning this September. Koo criticized the mayor in March for failing to grant the same holiday status for the Asian Lunar New Year.

Last December, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation granting the DOE greater flexibility to close schools on cultural and religious holidays. By law, all New York City public schools are required to hold at least 180 school days every year.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Community leaders urge BP to focus on creating new schools throughout Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Angy Altamirano

It turns out that it’s not just western Queens that has a problem with overcrowded schools.

Community leaders from across the borough urged Borough President Melinda Katz to push for school expansions during a budget meeting on Monday. Katz is in the process of developing the Queens budget for 2016, and she invited the public to comment on what mattered to them and their priorities for 2016.

“We’re experiencing a huge influx of children and we just don’t have the space,” said Karyn Petersen, Community Board 10 district manager. “We could use more schools or expand the schools we have. Both would be preferable.”

Petersen’s wishes were echoed by many others. Across the borough, people are reporting an increase in population and a swelling number of school children. In Woodside and Sunnyside, parents petitioned the city to create a new middle school. In the Jackson Heights area, Giovanna Reid bemoaned the fact that a new high school hadn’t been created in decades.

One hundred and fifty people, many representing hospitals, libraries, colleges and other institutions, signed up to speak at the hearing.

“We need a new high school,” Reid said.  “It’s about time for one.”

Along with a demand for more school seats, community leaders sought out funding to expand libraries, which, like the schools, are overcrowded. Along with a problem of limited space, many libraries are located on streets that are dangerous for pedestrians to cross.

“Kids have to cross the boulevard of death just to get to the library,” said Frank Gulluscio, the district manager for Community Board 6. “I mean I’m not trying to be dramatic but it’s a very dangerous place for kids to be even though many have to be there.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Ridgewood pol to state: Stop shortchanging public schools


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Ridgewood, along with fellow lawmakers, educators, parents and students, rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday morning demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers pay $2.5 billion owed to New York City public schools.

Of that $2.5 billion, according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equality (CFE), every state Senate and Assembly district is owed tens of millions of dollars in funding for their schools. State Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s district is owed nearly $137 million, the most of any Senate district.

Historically, advocates stated, NYC public schools have been woefully underfunded, as the NYS Court of Appeals determined in the CFE ruling. The CFE lawsuit was brought by parents in 1993 against the State of New York claiming that children were not getting an adequate education.

In 2006, the NYS Court of Appeals found that New York State violated students’ constitutional rights to a “sound and basic education” by underfunding public schools.

According to the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), a 2015 longitudinal study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when spending increases by 10 percent each year during low-income students’ tenure in school (K-12), those students earn 9.5 percent more as adults. Furthermore, graduation rates jump 4 percent, to 26 percent, and the likelihood of adult poverty is reduced.

“It’s very important that we’re here today to keep the focus on fulfilling the promise of CFE,” said Nolan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. “The court decision … said we have to provide our young people with a meaningful education that equips them for the future.”

“The economy has turned around, the funds are there. It’s time to keep our promises to the children and families of New York and for us, as state Legislatures, to continue to push for full funding for our wonderful young people,” Nolan added.

Currently, there is no proposed increase for school funding in Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget plan, unless the Legislature agrees to a series of new laws put forth by the governor.

The CFE launched a website which breaks down how much each public school is allegedly shortchanged, www.howmuchnysrobbed.nyc.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

Obama’s call to make community college tuition free gets an A from Queens students


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Students at Queensborough Community College are hopeful about a proposal that President Obama made to make community colleges free.

Samuel Yun, who goes to school full time and has to work a part-time job to help cover his costs, including tuition, was happy to hear the government may be picking up his college tab.

“That would totally help me,”  Yun, 20, said as he left his class at the Bayside campus. “It’s difficult for me because I’m taking six classes so it [holding down a job] gets in the way of me getting school things done on time.”

Obama unveiled the plan on Friday. It will need the approval of the Republican-controlled Congress to go into effect, but White House officials say they expect some bipartisan support.

If the whole country participates, Obama’s idea could help about 9 million students per year and save them around $3,800 in tuition, according to the White House. In Queens there are two community colleges — Queensborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College. Combined, the two schools have more than 30,000 students that would benefit from free tuition.

In Queensborough Community College, there are more than 16,000 students, according to the school’s records, enrolled in associate degree programs and another 10,000 students attend continuing education programs at Queensborough Community College, all of whom would be eligible for free tuition.

LaGuardia has a student body of more than 50,000 students from more than 150 countries.

“At LaGuardia we see the impact that a college education has on our students and their families,” said Gail Mellow, the school’s president. “Each year thousands of our students get the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in today’s economy.”

For Yun, he would be saving around $3,200, and the proposal would allow him to also quit his job as a waiter to focus on his dream of becoming a computer engineer.

Nearby, Isaac Masty, who just started his first semester, waited for his friends to finish class.

“If it gets passed, it would be a real boost for people coming from other countries,” the 18-year-old said. “Foreign students have such a hard time when they come here and if they were able to get a free start to their education, it would really go a long way for them.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Decision to keep NYC public schools open upsets parents


By Queens Courier Staff | 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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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. 



RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

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.