Today’s news:

Queens summer school attendance high in 2001

It seems the hot place for a lot of Queens kids to be this month is exactly where city school officials want them to be: summer school.

School officials throughout the borough reported high attendance at summer school classes this week and most credited the intense outreach efforts to parents championed this year by Schools Chancellor Harold Levy.

Citywide attendance figures for summer school were lackluster, Levy announced July 13. Overall roughly 66 percent of students told to go to summer school have shown up, the city Board of Education reported earlier this month.

“The numbers make it clear that we still don’t have all of the children in summer school who need to be in here,” Levy said in a statement. Levy has made urging parents to get their children to summer school a top priority in 2001, with a variety of media appearances showing him phoning families himself to remind them of summer school.

Queens seems to be the exception so far with most of the seven school districts in the borough reporting attendance rates of more than 80 percent. Attendance figures for students mandated, or required to go to summer school, were especially high in the borough, which has some of the most overcrowded classrooms in the city.

While four of Queens school districts readily volunteered information about summer school attendance, three districts failed to respond to repeated calls for comment on the issue. School Districts 24 in Glendale and 29 in Rosedale did not return calls, and School District 30 in Jackson Heights referred the TimesLedger to the Board of Ed.

Board of Ed spokesman Kevin Ortiz said only preliminary figures for summer school attendance were available for the three districts because the board had just collected the information for July 12, several days after summer school began.

In District 24, Ortiz said, 7,500 students were required to go to summer school and about 72 percent were attending. Of those 7,500 students mandated to go, Ortiz said 81 percent of the children were showing up in District 24, which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Elmhurst, Maspeth and Middle Village.

In southeast Queens’ District 29, about 5,100 children were registered to go to summer school and about 64 percent were attending, Ortiz said. But of those students required to go, Ortiz said 78 percent were attending. District 29 includes schools in Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, Laurelton and parts of Jamaica as well as Fresh Meadows.

In District 30 in northwestern Queens, roughly 7,200 students were in the summer school program. While School District 30 repeatedly refused to give details on its attendance information, Ortiz said about 77 percent of students were showing up and 83 percent of the mandated children were attending. District 30 covers Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside.

The remaining Queens school districts readily volunteered attendance information last week.

In the Flushing-based School District 25, where Deputy Superintendent Harvey Sherer said about 3,000 students were enrolled in the summer school program, some 78 percent of the children were attending. Of those mandated to go, Sherer said, 85 percent were coming to class in schools in Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and part of Fresh Meadows.

In School District 26 in Bayside, the numbers were even better said summer school director Arlene Berg.

“We did a big outreach the first week,” she said. “We’re very proud of that.”

About 890 students were in the summer school program in District 26, she said, the majority of whom were mandated to go. The attendance rate has been more than 90 percent at schools in Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and parts of Fresh Meadows and Queens Village, Berg said.

“Almost all of our (summer school) students are required to go,” she said. “We’ve concentrated on to get smaller class sizes for them.”

In District 27 in South Ozone Park attendance was also good, according to Deputy Superintendent Martin Weinstein. Of the 7,200 students going to summer school in the district, about 80 percent were attending. Of those mandated to go, 82 percent were in class, he said.

Weinstein, who also credited a heavy outreach to parents in the first week of summer school for the high attendance rates, said the majority of children in the program were going because they chose to, not because they were in danger of failing.

“We have 5,000 enrichment students,” Weinstein said.

In District 28, which stretches from Jamaica to Richmond Hill and Forest Hills, about 4,000 students were slated to attend summer school, District Spokesman Ron Levine said. About 87 percent of the mandated students were answering the call to come to summer school in District 28, he said.

“We are obviously very proud of that,” he said. “Our superintendent has worked hard to make sure that people know about summer school.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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