The Panel for Educational Policy, the policy-making body of the city Department of Education, approved seven alterations to schools in Queens on March 20, in a meeting that was far less contentious than the one earlier this month in which two borough high schools were clos
The changes that were made included the placement of a new transfer high school in the August Martin High School building in South Jamaica; new collocated middle schools at JHS 226 in South Ozone Park and JHS 8 in South Jamaica; the truncation of PS 156 in Laurelton from a K-8 to a K-5 school and a new middle-school collocated there; the movement of the Academy of Careers in Television and Film High School from its collocated site at JHS 204 in Long Island City to its new Dutch Kills home, where it will share space with a new middle school, and a new collocated high school in the JHS 204 building.
The seven changes were among more than two dozen made citywide by the PEP at its meeting, held at Brooklyn Technical High School.
Representatives from the United Federation of Teachers and other groups opposed to Mayor Bloomberg’s education policies attended the meeting to protest the changes, but their chants were less numerous than at the meeting on March 11, during which protesters shouted down Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg while the officials defended the city’s policy of collocations and school closures.
Queens PEP representative Dmytro Fedkowskyj said he opposed most of the changes voted on last week, but supported the new transfer high school collocated at August Martin.
“The transfer school collocating in a building that is 50 percent utilized benefits the surrounding communities, not just the August Martin school community,” he said. “This opportunity gives hundreds of students a second chance to earn a high school diploma and move on to college or the workforce.”
Fedkowskyj also supported the changes at JHS 204, including the relocation of ACTvF to its new building and the collocation of a new six-year high school there. He said the new school at JHS 204 will benefit the borough as a whole.
The March 20 meeting isn’t the last time collocations in Queens will be discussed this year.Two items will be discussed at the PEP’s April 17 meeting, including moving a portion of PS 143’s kindergarten into PS 330, which is already collocated in the new PS 287 building on Northern Boulevard in Corona. The other Queens proposal being considered would move grades 4 and 5 from PS 176 in Cambria Heights into IS 59 in Springfield Gardens while PS 176 is expanded to accommodate more students.
The recent votes are the final policy moves for the Bloomberg administration, which leaves office at the end of the year because anything proposed later would not be voted on until next year. Fedkowskyj suggested there could be changes in education policy this time next year.
“It all depends on who is mayor,” he said. “But I think there will be some changes.”
Whether Fedkowskyj is there for those depends on who the next borough president is. He was appointed to the PEP by current Borough President Helen Marshall and serves on the panel until he chooses to resign or is removed. A new borough president could choose to reappoint him or select his or her own appointee. Fedkowskyj said he has not had any discussions with the borough president candidates about education policy and he does not have a favorite in the race.
“They are all good candidates and I wish them the best of luck on their campaign trail,” he said.