CEC 27 to Vote on Middle School Choice in February

The controversial middle school choice proposal for parents around Community Education Council (CEC) District 27 could be drawing to a close soon.

At Monday night’s CEC 27 meeting at PS114, CEC member John Larkin assured dozens of concerned district parents that his board had not voted on the proposal, and would not do so until at least their Feb. 27 meeting.

Addressing previous stories that the board had already taken a vote, Larkin told residents that his board had not attempted a vote on the matter, and would be looking to put the issue to rest by late February.

“We will not be doing this behind your back,”he said.

Larkin’s words on the matter seemed to have a quelling effect on the parents who were in attendance at the meeting, with several people in attendance thanking the board for reserving a vote while encouraging them to turn down middle school choice.

During the Parent Teachers Association(PTA) District 27 meeting last week, the auditoriumof PS 146 in Howard Beach was filledwith parents from around the district who were angry over the middle school choice proposition. Specifically, their concerns were touched off by a letter issued by the city’s Department of Education (DOE) in November asking parents of the district’s fifth-grade children to complete an enrollment application for six schools outside of their original schools and return it by Dec. 16.

Students who did not fill out the applicationwould be placed in a school based upon zone,eligibility and available space, according to the letter.

The six schools were Brian Piccolo MiddleSchool 53 and The Academy of Medical Technology—both in Far Rockaway—Eagle Academy for Young Men III within District 29, VillageAcademy Q319, Phillipa Schuyler JuniorHigh School 383 in Brooklyn, and the YoungWomen’s Leadership School in District 28.

The main problem parents have, according to Theresa Fonal, president of PTA 27, was howthe schools within the survey were not up to par with the schools their children currently attend.

According to the 2010-11 progress report ofcitywide schools posted on the DOE’s website,nyc.doe.gov., Brian Piccolo was ranked witha failing grade of ‘F’, and the Young Women’sLeadership School was graded ‘C.’ The Academyof Medical Technology was ranked ‘B’ butis located in Far Rockaway High School, whosegrade was incomplete, Village Academy wasranked ‘B’ but is located in the ‘F’ ranked BrianPiccolo school, while both the Eagle Academyfor Young Men III and Phillippa Schuyler received‘B’ grades.

“We’re worried about what that means. Our children wouldn’t be getting equal education under that proposal,” she said, adding that she had told parents, based on city Councilman Eric Ulrich’s recommendation, not to fill out the application.

Jill McDade, president of PTA 114 in BreezyPoint, blasted the DOE for attempting to pushthe proposal onto the district, adding that parents were kept in the dark on middle school choice.

“Parents are entitled to accurate, precise and concrete information on middle school choice,”she said.

After the meeting, McDade said that, while encouraged by what Larkin told parents, she didn’t think it was time to rest until the final vote on the matter is cast in February.

Kathleen Bersell, a district parent who spoke at the meeting, thanked the board for not having rushed to vote on middle school choice while asking the board to strongly consider turning down the proposal when the time comes to make a vote on it.

“I don’t feel that it is a good choice for our district,and hopefully, you will consider keeping the process the way it was,” she said. Should the CEC turn the proposal down, it would likely be the end of the matter. Larkin reiterated that the CEC would listen to parents’ feelings on the matter before they vote on the issue in February.“If this district does not want middle school choice, then this district will not get middle school choice,” he told parents.

By Jean-Paul Salamanca



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