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Forest Hills, Halsey schools cited in state ed reports

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Despite some troubled areas, the report showed that both schools have maintained graduation rates and overall test scores well above the city average. Forest Hills High School was cited as "Requiring Academic Progress" for the second year in a row after only 56 percent of its English Language Learner seniors passed an english exam that met the graduation requirement, according to the report for 2003-04.The school also did not make the report's passing measure, called Adequate Yearly Progress, because the 93 percent of its students with disabilities who showed up for the math exam was below the required 95 percent participation.Stephen Halsey School, a junior high in Rego Park, was also cited for the second consecutive year after only about 90 percent of both its disabled and black eighth-graders took the math exam. It received its first citation at the language arts level when both those groups, plus the Hispanic and English Language Learner students, had an average 90 percent participation for the English test.The school's student body is comprised of 41 percent white, 16 percent black, 21 percent Hispanic and 22 percent Asian youth, according the report.Stephen Halsey's principal, Richard Dodici, did not return calls for comment on the report, which is compiled every year by the city and state to monitor school progress.If the schools fail to meet the state's performance standards in 2006, they will have two years to implement a progressive action plan before the state and city force it to restructure.By far the biggest roadblock Forest Hills High School faces in boosting its progress is overcrowding since its 3,500 students exceeded the school's capacity by nearly 40 percent in 2004, according to the report. Almost half of those students are Asian or Hispanic, 11 percent are black and 43 percent are white, the report showed. Forest Hills HS Principal Stephen Frey said to accommodate so many students, the school day has had to be extended from 7:20 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with seniors arriving earlier and lower classes leaving later. "When any school is so packed with students, other things suffer," Frey said.Some school and community officials are looking toward the four new schools slated for a September groundbreaking along Metropolitan Avenue to alleviate some of the overcrowding."We could really use the additional space," said Shirley Huntley, president of the Community Education Council for District 28, which covers Forest Hills.But such relief is far from guaranteed since the city's Department of Education has not decided whether the two proposed 500-seat high schools would be rezoned to host exclusively local students or be termed "theme" institutions, which would permit open enrollment."They'll just bring in more kids from all over," predicted Huntley after hearing from DOE officials that the schools -- planned for the site that sits on the cusp of Districts 28 and 24 -- would offer citywide enrollment.On thinning his school's packed student body, Frey said, "It won't happen unless more buildings are built."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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