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Walcott gets lukewarm reception in LIC

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City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott received a contentious but not altogether unwelcome reception last week at the city Department of Education’s Panel for Education Policy’s monthly meeting, which was held at Long Island City High School.

At the meeting, the panel approved the expansion of the Voice Charter School, which is in PS 111 at 37-15 13th St. in Long Island City. It also passed a revised version of the formula used to allocate revenue among schools and community school districts.

The meeting was attended by about 100 people, many of whom came to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s threat to lay off 4,100 teachers in the city school system or to protest a charter school being expanded inside their public school. In addition to the Voice Charter School, the panel voted on five instances where a charter school would have classes housed inside a public school, including two in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx.

Isaac Carmignani, one of the co-chairmen of Community District Education Council 30, said the council had originally opposed Voice Charter School expanding, but Voice has chosen to go to another location for its upper grades, while PS 111 will grow with the help of a federal magnet.

Jeff Guyton, CDEC 30’s other co-chairman, said Voice will host K-2 at PS 111 and grades three to five at St. Rita’s Catholic Church at 36-25 11th St. in Long Island City.

“We wish the staff, students and parents at Voice much success in their upcoming year and look forward to maintaining a positive relationship with them,” Carmignani said in an e-mail.

Wearing a headset microphone and sporting one of the new iPads the panel is now using instead of paper, Walcott said in the coming months the panel was going through its strategic planning process and would be examining the school’s core curriculums. Walcott also spoke briefly about a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers and the local chapter of the NAACP against the DOE to stop the proposed closing of 22 schools and 18 situations where a charter school would be set up inside or expanded within a public school.

Queens schools affected include Jamaica HS, at 167-01 Gothic Drive, and Beach Channel HS, at 100-00 Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway.

Walcott said he disagreed with the department but would continue to work with the union and the NAACP on other issues throughout the lawsuit.

“We are bigger than one issue, we are bigger than one student,” Walcott said at the LIC High School session at 14-30 Broadway.

After Walcott’s opening remarks, several audience members held up signs and erupted into cries of ,“No layoffs!” They left the auditorium carrying signs.

The protesters had an ally in panel member Patrick Sullivan, who reminded the panel of a similar lawsuit the UFT and NAACP undertook against the department last year that the department lost.

“When we lose in court again and again, it seems like we’re doing something wrong,” he said.

At the meeting, the panel passed a motion for an emergency adoption revise to the Fair Funding Formula. Aimed at equalizing how schools get tax funds, the revision changed the formula for academic intervention and special education. The vote was unanimous with two abstentions. A vote to permanently adopt the measure will be held in Manhattan in June.

The panel presented information on the revised formula on a Powerpoint presentation not available to the audience, which drew criticism from spectators. Walcott apologized, which earned him applause, one of the few kudos that night.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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