Today’s news:

SD 26 plan unveiled for new schools

School District 26 officials presented plans for PS/IS 266, the district’s first new school in 42 years, to parents last Thursday even as talk of dismantling the community school districts left the school’s future makeup uncertain.

The school, located on the northern section of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital grounds in Glen Oaks, is set to open in September with 720 seats for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. It will be located on the same campus as a District 29 K-8 magnet school and the High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and Sciences to which Glen Oaks Campus students will receive priority admission.

“The bottom line for children is it’s very exciting,” said District 26 Deputy Superintendent Stan Weber.

PS/IS 266’s project director, Ken Morris, began the meeting of about 30 parents at MS 74 in Bayside with a presentation of an architect’s drawing of the completed campus.

The lot is triangular in shape with an internal roadway, built to accommodate dropoffs and pickups on campus instead of in the neighborhood.

Morris, expected to be named the school’s principal, said foreign languages would be taught starting in kindergarten as would basic computer skills. Later on, students will learn Web page design, PowerPoint, and spreadsheets, even connecting to other classrooms across the globe on the Internet.

“They’re amazing. Children can do it,” he said.

Most parents in the audience wanted the inside track on getting their children into the state-of-the-art school, which is not zoned for any neighborhood and therefore open to all students currently attending District 26 schools.

Seats will be set aside in proportion to each school’s population in District 26, with some extra seats allotted for overcrowded schools. In the event that more students apply than there are spaces available, a lottery will be held and a waiting list drawn up. Priority admission will be given to siblings of students who have been admitted to PS/IS 266.

Applications will be available at the District 26 office at 61-15 Oceania St. in Bayside and at local schools beginning March 10, although the final date to apply was still under discussion.

Some people at the meeting wanted a relatively short application period so that children of parents in the know would have a better shot at entry.

“I say, leave [the application] in the school and every man for himself,” joked one parent.

A subject of concern at the meeting was what would become of the priority status of District 26 students in admission to the Glen Oaks Campus schools if the district is combined into a larger region with neighboring ones as Mayor Bloomberg has proposed.

District officials had no clear answer other than that they were mandated under current regulations to proceed on the assumption that there would be a District 26 applicant pool.

“I don’t think there is a person in this room who can tell you what will happen a year from now,” said school board President Sharon Maurer.

Board member Dr. Steven Barlow was the lone dissenting voice on the plan for PS/IS 266, saying that taking children away from their local schools would make it harder for them to make neighborhood friends and would subject them to more bullying on longer bus rides.

“The only thing you get from this new school is a new building,” said Barlow, who contended that the school did not offer anything innovative in its curriculum.

He also charged that the promise of priority admission to the Glen Oaks teaching high school would “blackmail” parents into pulling their children out of their zoned schools so that they would be guaranteed entry into the new high school instead of having to go to a less desirable high school closer to home, wherever that might be.

Maurer called Barlow’s charges a “scare tactic,” and some parents defended the admissions policy as giving them more school choice.

“My daughter has made wonderful friends,” said parent Vanessa Burgess of Floral Park, who sends her child to a school in another zone.

But at least one parent, Vinnie Lumetta, agreed that the high school admissions policy was blackmail.

“It’s a crime that they will be subjected to this,” said Lumetta, who planned to take his children out of their neighborhood school if they were admitted to PS/IS 266. “I will do that because my choices are so limited on a high school level.”

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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