Tag Archives: Schools

16 Queens schools face shutdown by state


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After seven Queens high schools won a nearly yearlong battle with the city to remain open, the institutions — along with 10 other borough schools — find themselves on a state list of schools that need to shape up or shut down.

New York state education officials unveiled a list of 123 schools in the city that face closure by the 2014 school year if improvements are not made. The list is made of schools in the bottom 5 percent on test scores and graduation rates.

Twenty-two borough schools also made the state’s list of the best in New York.

Six Queens high school were marked for turnaround by the city — which would have closed and reopened the institutions under new names — before a judge overruled the decision. Now, the schools again find themselves on a list that might mean their closure.

“The state’s new system more closely resembles the city’s school Progress Reports by recognizing growth and measuring students’ college and career readiness. This year, 55 schools were recognized for their strong performance and fewer schools were identified as struggling,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.  “There is still more work to do, and we will continue to support our struggling schools while holding them accountable to the high standards our students deserve.”

The Queens schools include 12 high schools, three middle schools and an elementary school.

The schools are: Newtown High School, Grover Cleveland High School, Flushing High School, Martin Van Buren High School, Beach Channel High School, August Martin High School, Richmond Hill High School, John Adams High School, Excelsior Prep High School, Jamaica High School, Long Island City High School, William Cullen Bryant High School, M.S. 53, J.H.S. 8, I.S. 192 and P.S. 111.

 

 

Best of the Boro Voting is Live: Don’t delay, vote today!


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Cast your vote for the best in Queens’ Family, Education & Recreation.

Hundreds of nominations have poured in to the Best of the Boro’s fourth and final round and now residents can select who stands out above the competition.

With seemingly endless entertainment options, this category allows residents to choose the borough’s best places to relax and enjoy time with your family.
The eclectic category features dozens of subcategories in a wide range of topics including: best batting cage, best pool hall, best shopping center and best movie theater among a host of others.

Also, the scores of elementary, middle and high schools throughout the borough have the opportunity to show off their school spirit as they vie to be named the top school in Queens. Best teacher, public school, private school, high school spirit and university are among the categories to be won.

Voting for your favorites is easy. Simply visit www.queenscourier.com and click on the Best of the Boro logo. There you can choose the best in any or all of the categories.
Voting will remain open until May 18. Hundreds of votes have already been tabulated, so if you want your favorites to have a chance to win, make sure to vote early and often. Residents can vote for their favorites once per day.

The first three rounds have garnered more than 175,000 votes. Keep an eye out around Queens for the Best of the Boro stickers in stores and eateries window — indicating that the borough’s residents chose it as second to none.

To stay up-to-the-minute on the competition like the Best of the Boro page on Facebook and follow @BestOfTheBoro on Twitter.

CLICK HERE to Start Voting

Is Ridgewood set to get a new school?


| jlane@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos

Kids in a crowded Queens neighborhood will have more room to expand their minds when a new school opens in Ridgewood — though they will have to wait three years.
More than 100 parents attended a public hearing on Tuesday, April 10 held by Community Board 5’s education committee at P.S. 305 on Seneca Avenue, across the street from the proposed site for the new school.

The hearing was held to discuss the building of a new 444-seat, state-of-the-art school and the School Construction Authority (SCA) was on hand to answer questions about the proposed structure.

The site – the St. Aloysius school building which closed last year, has not yet been purchased – but the SCA — which handles the planning, designing and construction of new schools — is in talks with the church to buy the property.

After purchase, an environmental analysis must be done before the school is demolished and a new building constructed. The goal — which the SCA labeled “aggressive” — is to have the school opened by September, 2015.

Parents of children at P.S. 305 are hoping that the new school would be an extension of the school which currently only goes up to the third grade. Twice the school has asked to be expanded to fifth grade, but has been denied. Currently, children graduate to P.S. 81 for fourth and fifth grades before going to a third school for sixth through eighth grades.

The Department of Education (DOE) said it will not have any details on what grades the school will house until the purchase is finalized.
A representative from Councilmember Diana Reyna’s office was on hand and applauded the DOE for addressing the issue of overcrowding in Ridgewood.
“The new primary elementary school at the former St. Aloysius site shows that the SCA and DOE have been listening to the community and have heard the need for the creation of more elementary school spots,” said the spokesperson.

The building will be built to accommodate children from any grades, kindergarten through 8th grade, said Pat Grayson, chair of CB5’s education committee.
At CB5’s monthly meeting the next day, board members approved the construction of the school building.

Final Chapter For Flushing?


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Melissa Chan

Local leaders rallied to save Flushing High School before the city closes the book on the storied 137-year-old institution.

Elected officials and education advocates gathered in front of the school to protest a possible Turnaround — which would mean replacing half of the teachers and reopening the school under a new name.

“Closing Flushing High School seems to me to be one of the most short-sighted decisions that the city has ever made because graduation rates are improving,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky at the protest on April 16. “Over the last six years, they’ve come up. It’s starting to work. Flushing High School has been slowly reversing the trend.”
Stavisky, who worked as a substitute teacher at the school before her election to the State Senate, said Flushing High School is home to many students who do not speak English as their first language, which she said may be attributed to the school’s low success rate.

“If a child comes into this building speaking no English and, instead of graduating in four years, he graduates in five years — that child should be commended. [He should] not have a finger pointed at him like he’s bringing the school down,” said Dermot Smyth, a United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative.

DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas said Flushing High School received a “D” on its most recent progress report, with an “F” on the student performance section. He also said graduation rates at schools serving similar populations are significantly higher than at Flushing.

According to Thomas, the DOE cannot afford to let underperforming schools linger while a teacher evaluation deal is hammered out and implemented. He said the

Turnaround plan keeps the best parts of the existing school, including its highest quality faculty, while creating a new program, new school culture and a different and better environment for students.

Flushing High School’s first public hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. after The Courier went to press. A meeting to introduce next year’s new school principal — Magdalen Radovich — will be held on Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

 

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


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fighting to keep L.I.C. HS open


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Long Island City High School students are teaching a lesson in devotion by refusing to “turn” their backs on their school and allow their educators to be dismissed.
L.I.C., located at 14-30 Broadway, is among 26 schools across the city the Department of Education (DOE) has designated for Turnaround – which involves closing the school at the end of the academic year, reopening under a different name in the fall and replacing up to 50 percent of the teachers.

More than 100 students, teachers and elected officials rallied on the steps of L.I.C. on April 16 – a day before a DOE public hearing at the school – to protest the city’s plan.
Amira, the L.I.C. senior class vice president and an organizer of the rally, said students “are not going to go down without a fight.”
Teachers have also expressed outrage over the DOE’s intentions, and are requesting aid from the city rather than attacks.

Senator Michael Gianaris, an alumnus of L.I.C., believes the city is playing political games with kids’ education.

L.I.C. was included on the state’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools during both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. The school – which was initially designated for the less severe Transformation plan – was receiving Race to the Top funding before negotiations broke down between the city and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) on an evaluation system. By instituting the Turnaround model – a program which does not require teacher evaluations – the city will be eligible to apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state. L.I.C. would be eligible for $1.55 million in supplemental federal funding.
According to DOE records, L.I.C. ranks in the bottom 18 percent among city high schools in attendance with 81 percent and was given an overall progress report grade of C in both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.

The school, given a Quality Review score of “Proficient” on its most recent evaluation, has shown significant improvement in graduating students over the last three years, with graduation rates increasing from 56 percent in 2008-2009 to 66 percent in 2010-2011.

L.I.C. currently serves 3,386 kids, and despite the overhaul, all current students and incoming ninth graders who have applied and been matched to L.I.C. will have a seat in the new school.

As part of its plans for the replacement school, the DOE intends to modify the structure of the school day schedule, strengthen small learning communities, modify curricula and add an advisory program.

“The proposal to close L.I.C. and re-open a new school in its place will allow the best teachers to stay, improve the school’s structure and quality of teaching, and potentially allow us to access millions of dollars in funding to help the school improve,” said DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas.

The DOE’s proposal will be voted on by the Panel for Education Policy (PEP), a committee composed of 13 members assigned by the five borough presidents and Mayor Bloomberg, on April 26.

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis
Hundreds rallied outside Long Island City High School to protest the potential Turnaround of the school.

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

6 months for yeshiva perv

A yeshiva student admitted yesterday to inappropriately touching two 8-year-old girls to whom he was giving private religious instruction. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter sentenced Hillel Selznicek, 25, to six months in prison, calling him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing’’ who “betrayed their trust in the most disgusting way.’’

Read More: New York Post

 

Weiner a jerk before crotchgate, craved media attention: book

Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner was behaving like a jerk long before the world got a glimpse of his crotch. A new book offering an inside look at the US House of Representatives depicts Weiner as a desperately ambitious loudmouth who berated his staff and would do or say anything for TV airtime. Weiner “would enter his office in the Rayburn Building screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Why the f–k am I not on MSNBC?!’” journalist Robert Draper wrote in “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives.” Read More: New York Post

 

Rapper guilty in ’93 slay

Former Bad Boy rapper G. Dep was convicted yesterday of a decades-old murder — a cold-case East Harlem shooting that was solved only when he walked into a station house two years ago and turned himself in, to square himself with God. The 37-year-old father of three now faces the mandatory minimum sentence for murder — 15 years. “I told him to not regret his decision and that God won’t abandon him,” said his lawyer, Anthony Ricco. “Trevell Coleman is a very courageous person,” he added, using the rapper’s given name. Read More: New York Post


Delta Flight With Blown Tire Able To Land Safely At JFK

John F. Kennedy International Airport had a nerve-wracking scene Wednesday as a Delta flight from Paris with a blown tire tried to land. A Delta spokesman says Flight 185 to New York blew the tire while taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. The crew was not sure if the tire was blown when the plane was airborne. The spokesman said air traffic controllers with binoculars were able to see the deflated tire during a fly-by before the landing at JFK. Tire debris was also found on the runway. Read More: NY1

 

NYPD’s Transit Patrol Dogs Now Train In Long Island City

The NYPD’s Transit K9 Unit has moved to Long Island City, Queens from Downtown Brooklyn, and MTA officials say part of the reason is so the new facility can be in the center of the city’s mass transit system. Read More: NY1

 

Sudan diplomat’s wife is shot, wounded by stray bullet in Queens

The wife of a Sudanese diplomat was struck by a stray bullet in Queens while she was with two of her young children, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday. The tots miraculously escaped injury. The violence unfolded as Mawahad Elbahi, 31, was carrying her year-old son and her 3-year-old daughter at her side on 31st Drive in Astoria Tuesday afternoon. They were waiting for her 5-year-old son to be dropped off by his school bus when bullets started to fly. Read More: Daily News

 

Queens kindergarten waiting lists up at zoned schools

The number of incoming Queens kindergartners who were wait-listed to get into their zoned public schools rose this year, according to city data. About 950 of the borough’s prospective kindergartners were on waiting lists. The longest in the borough was at Public School 307 in Corona where 109 were on the list — making it the city’s third-largest wait. The number of new Queens kindergartners waiting for seats is up roughly 7% over last year. Read More: Daily News

DOE cuts leave their mark


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

For Gary Haberski, reporting for his six-hour shift each weekday at Bayside High School was not only a delight, but his daily workout.

“I used to walk to school every day since I only live two miles away,” said Haberski, 62, of Whitestone, one of 700 Department of Education (DOE) employees let go recently. “I would go back tomorrow if I could.”

With the largest number of layoffs at one time in the city during the Bloomberg Administration, teacher aides and support staff have officially been cut in an effort to save $35 million, according to DOE officials.

This is the second time Haberski has been laid off by the DOE, last time spending 11-months on a recall list. Although prepared with a letter explaining a possible lay-off in September, the pink slip letter that came on October 7 prompted him to call all of his elected officials in outrage.

“The first time, I was upset and depressed,” said Haberski, a lifelong Queens resident. “Now, I’m just mad.”

School aides and support staff have many roles in schools including monitoring hallways, creating a more secure environment, observing during SAT and other test taking as well as other functions. It’s those day-to-day interactions with students that he misses the most.

“You establish relationships with the kids. You see them every day and learn what they want to do with their lives. I miss all that,” said Haberski.

Since being put back on the recall list, Haberski has filed for unemployment and is currently looking into food stamps as a money-saving option. He was one of three aides to be laid-off at Bayside High School, each of them in their 60s as well.

“We are hoping they are going to call us back quicker,” said Haberski. “There are not many jobs out there to begin with, especially for a 62 year old. It’s a waiting game.”

The decision to make cuts occurred as a result of failed negotiations between DC 37, the city’s largest municipal public employee union, and the DOE. DC 37 believes the cuts will affect lower income areas the most.

Queens schools get great report card


| rcasiano@queenscourier.com

Students in Queens may have a leg up when it comes to learning.

According to a progress report by the Department of Education (DOE), public schools in Queens were ranked the best in the city.

Queens had the highest percentage of schools in New York that received an “A” in the 2011 progress reports released by the DOE. The best performing school district in the city was also in Queens, the report found.

The annual progress reports award public schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress and performance, attendance and school environment. They also take into account academic progress made with students with disabilities and, new this year, the progress of black and Latino male students.

Out of the 253 schools in Queens serving grades K-8, 34 percent got an “A.” That is higher than all the other boroughs and closest to Manhattan, which had 30 percent of their K-8 schools get an “A.” District 26, which serves northeast Queens, was the best performing district academically, according to the report.

Still, not all schools in Queens were winners.

P.S. 215 in Far Rockaway, P.S. 80 in Jamaica and P.S. 182, also in Jamaica, were among the 13 schools in the borough that received grades of “C”s, “D”s, or “F”s.

For the schools that did fare well however, there was a lot to celebrate.

Phyllis Leinwand is the principal at P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill, one of the highest performing public schools in Queens, according to the report. Leinwand attributes the school’s success to their connections with parents, individualized instruction and working with students in groups.

“Small is the key,” said Leinwand, who has led the school for 11 years and was happy with the good news. “I am very proud of the results. They reflect the hard work of teachers, parents, children and the school community.”

The school grades only include elementary and middle public schools. Public high schools get their separate progress reports at the end of October, according to a spokesman for the DOE.

Graphic:

Top Schools Grades

P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill…………………..A

P.S. 254 in Richmond Hill……………….A

Worst Schools:

P.S. 215 in Far Rockaway…………………F

P.S. 80 in Jamaica………………………………F