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Panel changes way to apply to sixth grade

Community Education Council District 28 members unanimously approved a resolution to streamline the application process for intermediate schools, which sparked ire from some parents but praise from elected and school officials.

The resolution’s passage May 19 paves the way for the city to implement a new application process next year for the sixth grade that mirrors the way students currently apply to high schools.

As part of the plan, fifth-grade students in District 28 would use one application form on which they prioritize what schools they would like to attend for sixth grade. Currently, students must apply to each school individually instead of using one single application.

District 28 includes schools in Forest Hills, Rego Park, Jamaica, Kew Gardens and Springfield Gardens.

Parents at last week’s meeting, held at the CEC’s Jamaica headquarters, criticized the resolution and said they were concerned that it did not include a phrase stating students would definitely land a spot in their own neighborhood school should they not be accepted into other schools of their choice.

“I don’t think you should approve the resolution,” PS 101 PTA President Deborah Dillingham said at the council’s May 19 meeting. “Guaranteeing students a seat in their locally zoned school has to be in the resolution.”

A city Department of Education spokesman at the meeting said students would be guaranteed a seat in their locally zoned schools, although parents were concerned that without a written promise students would be sent to any school within District 28.

Parents also said they were concerned the DOE was penalizing students ´╗┐who opted to remain in their elementary schools for sixth grade instead of applying to an intermediate institution because the DOE said it could not save seats for those seventh-graders. For example, if fifth-grade students now attending PS 101 in Forest Hills wanted to remain at the popular elementary school through their sixth grade, they would likely not be able to land a spot at a school outside their local zone upon entering seventh grade.

“Those options should be made available, or some flexibility should be made available, to those students who stay in their schools for sixth grade,” said Albert Talero, whose daughter attends PS 101.

State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) said all the parents she had spoken to about the resolution backed the idea of a uniform application.

“I spoke to a number of them, and they feel the resolution was the best choice,” Huntley said. “This way they can apply for schools in their zone and out of their zone. I didn’t run across any negative comments from parents.”

CEC 28 President Joseph Trotti also said the change was needed.

“The application process needs centralization,” Trotti said. “Now they get applications from all different places and it can be difficult.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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