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Representatives from the city Department of Education's Office of Portfolio Development and the proposed Academy of Film and Television spoke Feb. 6 to a large crowd of concerned faculty and parents in the school's auditorium, detailing the layout of the new high school and potential advantages for students. The proposed school would take away 16 current classrooms at IS 204, located at 36-41 28th St. in Long Island City, and add 100 new students each year to the building for the next four years, said Mark Dunetz, the high school's principal. The new school's freshman class would begin this fall, he said."The film and television industry is a $5 billion industry in New York and there are 100,000 jobs connected to it," he said. "But there is not a single high school in New York City that prepares students for this industry. We believe high school should not only prepare students for college but also give them real-world experience. This is a community where this industry is growing and growing and growing."Dunetz said students at the school would have a traditional high school curriculum but could take electives tied to the entertainment industry, as well as take part in film and television internships and mentoring programs. He said IS 204 students would also get first priority for entry into the new high school.The school currently houses sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.But IS 204's students, parents and teachers said they thought the new school would bring more negative aspects with it than benefits."I'm concerned about safety," said seventh-grader Bryanna Young, 12. "High-schoolers beat up students and steal their phones. I think it's dangerous. Plus, it will be a lot tighter. We'll be squashed in the hallways. It's going to be too much."But Dunetz said the school would not allow more than 27 students per classroom.Justin LeWinter, a chapter leader of the city's United Federation of Teachers, said the school currently has an estimated 880 students. He said the new school could increase the building's population to more than 1,500 students."We're outraged," he said. "This was dropped in our lap and we were told there is nothing we can do about it."Some parents said they thought the school would have many benefits for the community, such as training students for careers at an early age, but would like for it to be housed in another building."It would be good for the community, but somewhere else in the community," said parent Angela Romero Perez. "It's ridiculous to put more students in this building. It would be havoc."School aide Sabina Clark said students at the school are already bullied by students from other local high schools who hang out near IS 204's premises."We should be thinking about the safety of our children - it's not safe here now," she said. "We have gang problems in this neighborhood."A DOE spokeswoman said the high school is still a proposal and that combining the schools was not definite.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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