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May 14, 2015
Victim in train derailment leaves lasting legacy at Queens high school
Justin Zemser, who died in this week's train derailment near Philadelphia, was Channel View's valedictorian, football team captain, and its student body president.
June 5, 2014
At Coney Island transfer school, award-winning principal pushes students beyond graduation
When they come home from college, Liberation Diploma Plus High alumnae Ashley Brown and Nijah Preacher make a point of seeing their high school principal. This visit was a special one, however: Principal April Leong was receiving a 2014 Sloan Public Service Award.
November 13, 2013
Progress reports show stability as mayor-elect plans changes
Officials released what could be the city's final round of school grades today, emphasizing stability even as major changes are likely imminent. The Department of Education and City Hall will soon be full of new officials, and last year was chaotic for different reasons—Superstorm Sandy and the first round of the state's new, tougher Common Core-aligned exams. That meant today's release was marked by little fanfare and lowered stakes. The A to F grades and accompanying school progress reports are based mostly on calculations of student test scores, and they have become a signature of Mayor Bloomberg's focus on school accountability since the city began giving them out in 2007. But they may not stick around at all, as mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has promised to eliminate those grades and pause the school-closure process. So the 45 schools that received Fs and 102 that received Ds this year will not be considered for closure this year, as has become the norm.
October 29, 2013
A year after landfall, looking back on Sandy's toll on schools
The basement at P.S. 15 in Brooklyn's Red Hook was also flooded with between five and seven feet of water, staff said. One year ago today, city students had the first of what ultimately became at least a week — and in some cases longer — of hurricane days, after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the city, taking its transportation system, power infrastructure, and hundreds of school buildings offline. A year later and hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs later, the schools are operating normally, for the most part. But the academic, physical, and emotional effects continue to resonate for some affected students and teachers. Here's a look back at the last year.
May 20, 2013
Emotions still raw as Regents visit Sandy-affected city schools
Members of the state Board of Regents took a break from their cloistered policy discussions today to hear directly from families who were heavily affected by Superstorm Sandy last year. "Every time it rains, like last week, the first words my son asks me" is if the house will flood, said Maryrose Spiteri. "He panics." Spiteri was part of a small group of parents and teachers from P.S. 38 on Staten Island who met in the school's library this morning with three Regents: Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Buffalo's Robert Bennett, and Staten Island's Christine Cea. Principal Everlidys Robles estimated that 85 percent of her families "were devastated" by the storm and that 40 students — about 12 percent — had not returned.
April 29, 2013
Sandy and New York City's public schools: An annotated history
When Superstorm Sandy struck New York City six months ago, it hobbled the school system along with the rest of the city. We look back at half a year of physical, psychic, and academic recovery for the city's schools. Landfall: The auditorium at P.S. 195 in Manhattan Beach was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, making the school one of 200 to have its building damaged by the storm. On Oct. 26, as Sandy bore down on the region, school budgets were the big news.
April 26, 2013
Six months after Sandy, a Rockaway school is still struggling
Channel View's college applications celebration was "one of the best days" for the school since Hurricane Sandy, a student said. The school is still recovering from the storm. When a television news crew approached the Channel View School for Research a couple of months ago and asked to do a glowing report on the school's success, the staff was incredulous. "They wanted to do a story about thriving schools,” said Craig Dorsi, a history teacher and the school’s union chapter leader. "We were like, are you freaking crazy? We’re not thriving. The reality is that the world is still upside down." A year ago, the school's impressive graduation, attendance, and college and career readiness rates all made Channel View worth visiting. But that was before Hurricane Sandy, which tore through New York City six months ago this week. In the storm's aftermath, Channel View was displaced from its building for two months and has struggled to recover. Teachers' and students' homes were destroyed, parents lost their jobs, and ongoing work to rebuild the Rockaway Peninsula has made for a bleak backdrop in which to go to school. Even four months after the school returned to its building, students and staff say that something is missing. In interviews, they struggled to identify what they had lost.
February 26, 2013
Four months after Sandy, education department waits on FEMA
Chancellor Walcott testifies at a City Council hearing on Hurricane Sandy recovery. Like many of the New York residents whose homes were hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Education is waiting on the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Before the department can apply for FEMA funds to make repairs at a given Sandy-affected school, or to reimburse the department for funds already expended to carry out repairs, FEMA representatives must first make a site visit to the school. But in over four months since the hurricane hit, FEMA has visited only eight out of 50 schools. “We have the money to work on the schools,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, referring to the $200 million in emergency capital funds Mayor Bloomberg announced in November would go towards paying for repairs on schools damaged during the hurricane.
February 26, 2013
New photographs reveal city schools' extensive Sandy damage
A slide from a Department of Education presentation about the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy shows that P.S. 114's devastated auditorium has since been repaired. The presentation, which contains before-and-after photographs from 16 school buildings, is being delivered at a City Council hearing today about city agencies' responses to the storm. Emma is at the hearing and will report on it later this afternoon.
February 12, 2013
Walcott: Strike absences shouldn't exempt students from exams
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said on Monday that she thinks students who have missed weeks of school due to the city's school bus strike should not have to take the year's state math and reading tests. Today, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said they should. Speaking at a briefing for reporters about bids for new contracts the city received from bus companies, he said, They should sit [for the tests]. This year has been a very dramatic year for our students, both with the hurricane [Sandy] and with this strike, but we’ve also been working very closely with the schools and working with our principals and providing materials for parents to receive at home as well.
December 17, 2012
After struggles and Sandy, seniors celebrate applying to college
Senior Kristine Supple hands off a stack of college applications to a postal worker parked at the Franklin K. Lane high school campus. Behind her is Folorunso Fatukasi, a University of Connecticut-bound football star. It was one thing for college-bound seniors at the Channel View School for Research to lose internet access and have to attend classes in a new location after Hurricane Sandy knocked their homes and school building out of commission. But it was quite another to lose access to Jennifer Walter, the do-it-all school staff member whose job it is to help them get their college applications across the finish line. Walter's home was flooded, along with the computers and printers she used to put together the finishing touches for students' applications. "She is a guidance counselor, a senior advisor. She's everything. She's a friend. She's like an aunt," Ivonne Aguiar said on Friday as she prepared to mail applications to a slew of colleges, including her top choice, Vanderbilt University. Channel View is one of eight city high schools operated by NYC Outward Bound Schools where students send off their college applications with collective pomp and circumstance in a tradition that began last year at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. A top Department of Education official has held up the ritual as a low-cost strategy for preparing students for college, and Chancellor Dennis Walcott joined students at WHEELS on Friday for his second college application-mailing ceremony as seven other schools, including Channel View, held marches of their own.
December 13, 2012
In new arrangement, teachers' pensions to fund infrastructure
President Bill Clinton was joined by AFT President Randi Weingarten (behind him) and other union and city officials today to announce a $1 billion investment of the city's teacher pension fund into Hurricane Sandy recovery projects. One billion dollars of the city's teacher pension fund will be used to finance construction and repair projects for city roads, bridges, and homes, President Bill Clinton and other officials announced Thursday. Clinton joined UFT President Michael Mulgrew, AFT President Randi Weingarten, City Comptroller John Liu, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan to announce the pledge, which Clinton called “a remarkable commitment” to “properly rebuild in the aftermath of Sandy.” “This storm exposed weaknesses in our infrastructure that must not only be repaired, but we must rebuild in a different way,” said Donovan, who is now in charge of federal Sandy recovery efforts. This will be the first time the city’s teacher pension funds are used for infrastructure projects, Liu said, even though the idea has been around for years. “There’s always been apprehension about, is it going to work, is it potentially a vicious circle? So what I’ve seen is everybody is waiting for somebody else to do it, and therefore nobody does it. I’m very proud that, in this case, New York City is taking the lead,” Liu said after the announcement.
December 13, 2012
Staten Island schools affected by Sandy get high-profile visitors
UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left) and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan toured a storm-swept area of Staten Island between school visits today. After Hurricane Sandy devastated Staten Island, New Dorp High School sprang into action. Under the leadership of Principal Deidre DeAngelis, the school turned into a command center for the area, hosting a school displaced by the storm, drumming up donations from alumni, and distributing food, clothing, and blankets to students and staff members who needed them. On Thanksgiving, New Dorp hosted a dinner for 650 families. "Matt cooked until he couldn't cook anymore," DeAngelis said about the school's culinary arts teacher, Matthew Hays. "We were so appreciative that we got help when no one else was helping us," said Amanda Delapena, the student body vice president whose home was heavily damaged. "I thought the story of what this school has done needs to be told," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during a visit to the school this morning. At his invitation, U.S. Secretary of Education also visited the school, along with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Ernest Logan, president of the principals union.
November 20, 2012
Students who missed class after Sandy now have online option
Students at Brooklyn's Olympus Academy, a transfer high school, use online learning to move ahead at their own pace. To help students whose homes and schools were damaged in Hurricane Sandy make up for the days of learning time they lost, the Department of Education is expanding its online course offerings to them. Most schools have returned to working order since Sandy left dozens of them flooded or without power, and attendance is slowly rising. But department officials say they are concerned that students who missed many days of school, or continue to miss school because their home situations prevent them from getting to school, will fall behind. The solution they've devised is to expand online courses that some schools are already offering to more students. The courses will be open to most students whose homes or schools were affected by the hurricane, and will count for credit towards graduation. The opportunity has the potential to reach students who otherwise might not be able to make up classwork they have missed during the school day. But it requires internet access, which many still lack. "The goal is to help kids get as much instruction as possible," said department spokeswoman Connie Pankratz. "We were able to build this up really quickly beause we had this platform already existing."
November 20, 2012
City raids February vacation week to make up time lost to Sandy
This year's midwinter vacation will shrink from five days to two to make up for school days cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy, city and union officials announced today. The city closed schools for five days because of the storm, and some particularly hard-hit schools were closed even longer. In addition to interrupting students' schooling, the lost time dropped the city below the 180 instructional days required to receive state school aid. Now, according to a city-union deal, students will attend school on four days they were supposed to have off: Feb. 20-22 and June 4. The February days had been part of a weeklong break that has been part of the calendar since 1990, and the June date had been scheduled as a "clerical day" for teachers and school staff. With four days added back to the calendar, the school year is now set to be 181 or 182 days, depending on what grade students are in. That leaves a slight cushion for snow days, but if more than one day is cancelled, additional makeup days will have to be identified.
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