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Queens Chronicle

School safe while libraries seek help

CB 5 applauds GCHS reprieve; Queens Library asks for support

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Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:38 am, Thu May 24, 2012.

It may have been the most pleasantly anticipated committee report in recent memory at Community Board 5 last Wednesday as Education Committee Chairwoman Pat Grayson reaffirmed what all in the district already knew — Grover Cleveland High School has been spared the infamous ‘turnaround’ process that the city has slapped on 24 high schools in the city.

The board had passed a unanimous resolution calling on the city to do just that in April, arguing that the school had made the significant, demonstrable progress the city has sought after bringing in new Principal Denise Vittor and giving her three years under the “start-up” designation.

A handful of board members expressed either joy or relief at the meeting, and Grayson said she herself congratulated Vittor. But she also said the hard part begins now.

“I’m going to be keeping an eye on them,” she said. “We asked for this ... If they fail to improve in the next 10 years, I’ll help close it myself.”

The meeting also saw a presentation from a representative of the Queens Library System, which is looking at steep cuts in funding in the budget proposed by Mayor Bloomberg earlier this month.

The library is going on a boroughwide push to restore the $26.7 million — a 31 percent cut — in city funding Bloomberg plans.

Kristin Kuehl, an official with the library’s main office, said the effect would be devastating, including more than 600 layoffs.

“Eighteen branches would close,” she said.”Thirty libraries in Queens would be closed four to five days per week. There would be one library open on Saturday for 2.3 million information-starved Queens residents. And there would be no Sunday service at all.”

Kuehl also said the library had to deal with a multimillion dollar cut last year, and handed out the petitions that have been circulating throughout the borough since the mayor’s executive budget came out.

But board member Peter Comber asked a blunt question about economics.

“As there are limited funds, how many police officers, firefighters and teachers do you want laid off to do this?” he asked.

Kuehl acknowledged that all three were higher on the city’s priority list, while reiterating that cuts year after year cannot help but have an impact on the service the library is expected to deliver.

In other board news, District Manager Gary Giordano, in his monthly report, said the long-awaited replacement of the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge over the Long Island Rail Road still appears to be on track for construction in 2014.

He also said the city is continuing to monitor the effect on traffic near and around the Maspeth truck bypass that was implemented back in October.

The changes were made to keep truck traffic out of the Grand Avenue business corridor and surrounding residential streets. But Giordano said the city has not been unmindful of potential unanticipated impact.

He said a new traffic signal could be coming to one or more intersections in the neighborhood, and that the city will continue efforts to reduce double parking of trucks on 55th Drive, which has a Coca-Cola bottling plant and several other smaller businesses.

“They said they would monitor the situation, and they are,” Giordano said.

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