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District 29 parents voiced their support for the proposed curriculum at the three new schools set to open in September, but many are concerned the plan could change if Chancellor Joel Klein's plan to reorganize the administration moves forward.
More than 100 parents turned out for last Thursday's public hearing on the three schools scheduled to welcome students this fall - PS/IS 208 on the Creedmoor campus, PS 268 in Hollis and PS 263 in Queens Village.
Superintendent Michael Johnson laid out the zoning admissions policies and curriculum for the new facilities in the district, which covers Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Hollis and Fresh Meadows. The school board must vote for the plan before March 1, and then it will go to the city Department of Education for approval.
But with Klein's proposal to combine District 29 with Districts 28, 25 and 26 into a larger region under the control of one superintendent, the plan for the new schools could be changed by the new local schools chief, Johnson said. Klein's reorganization would go into effect at the end of this school year pending judicial review.
"Our task is to bring this project to whatever we can by June 30," he said. "This is what we're laying out till June 30."
The zoning recommendations, as drawn up by the District 29 administration and the school board, would designate the three new schools as magnet schools, meaning they would draw students from across the district to specialized learning programs, Johnson said.
"Our goal is to create a high-achieving, dynamic group of schools in District 29 that I believe can compete with any school in the city," he said. "What is going to happen at these schools should happen at all schools. If we have the opportunity to build a school from the ground up, why not build an excellent school?"
The schools would have special programs to challenge gifted students, balanced with smaller class sizes for students with poor reading scores, according to the recommendations. The schools will also have strong technological components to integrate computer skills into everyday lessons, according to the plan.
Also, the middle school students will be able to take part in the Specialized Training for Entrance Prep - Unlimited Potential program to help them prepare for the admissions exam for the city's specialized high schools, including the newly opened High School for the Sciences at York College.
"I think this is a fabulous plan," said Sandra Dastagirzaoa, PTA president at PS 138. "I would love to see this plan at every school. This is exactly what we want at every school."
Johnson hopes to implement some of the teaching strategies planned for the new schools at the district's other schools as well, he said. To register students for the new seats parents will need to apply, listing their choice preferences, Johnson said.
The students will be chosen by a lottery system, based on their reading test scores, he said. About 10 percent of the seats will be given to students in the lowest reading group, 14 percent in level two, 25 percent in level three and 50 percent in level four, the highest performing group, according to the plan.
While parents at the meeting spoke in support of the plan or asked questions to clarify the application process, many were concerned the plan would change once the district administration was restructured.
"The idea is fabulous, but we need to get to September," Dastagirzaoa said. "Forget about June, we're parents, September is what's important to us."
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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