City rejects top-rated Canarsie middle school’s proposal to expand

The expansion plan of an A-rated Canarsie middle school that wanted to also serve grades K-5 has been denied by the city — and now a charter school is slated to move in. Administrators at Intermediate School 211 on E. 100th St. were told by city Department of Education officials on Friday that their expansion proposal was rejected in favor of the Leadership Prep charter school, which is slated to serve grades K-8. “I’m very disappointed,” said IS 211 parents association president Dorothy Atkinson. “We are an A school and we have proven we do good by our kids. We should be given the opportunity to expand.” School officials sent in their proposal to expand the school in February. Since then, parents were working overtime to try and drum up community support for their plan and kill the budding charter proposal. Dept. of Education plans call for Leadership Prep open its doors in the fall of 2013 - housing grades K-4 in the IS 211 building and the other grades at another site. The new charter school is expected to be approved when the city’s Panel for Educational Policy votes on the plan in May. “We believe the K-8 continuity provided by Leadership Prep will be an excellent new option for this community, and that IS 211 will continue to provide a high quality middle school that does not overstretch their ability to serve their students,” said DOE spokesman Frank Thomas. Parents and advocates who wanted IS 211 to expand are furious. “I don’t want to see a charter school in there. It will limit the facility for other parents,” said Trevor Davis of Canarsie, whose daughter Tiana is in the eighth grade. “The school is doing well. If they were allowed to expand there would be more possibilities for the students in the neighborhood,” he said. Michelle Barker of East Flatbush, whose 14-year-old son David attends IS 211, also felt the charter school was a problem. Continue Reading

Heavy rains flood East Flatbush middle school

At an East Flatbush middle school, flooding is so bad that the basement and cafeteria are unusable when it rains heavily. The basement at I.S. 285 fills with water after torrential downpours - most recently this Monday - and the school has turned into a soggy mess after storms for years, parents and local pols say. “Any time it pours we have a problem,” said parent association president Tamara Morris-Nelson, who said she is worried about her son’s health because he has allergies. “I want to make sure he’s in a safe environment,” she said. “I don’t want him ingesting the spores that could be in the air.” The cafeteria at the Beverley Road has to be cordoned off when it floods, and a music room has been abandoned altogether because it can accumulate up to three feet of water, according to Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-East Flatbush). "This is a dangerous and unnecessary interruption of normal school activities," he said. “This one was particularly bad, it happens a lot.” The flooding is part of a bigger flood problem in the neighborhood, which Williams blamed on poor drainage in the streets, but he said city agencies have been pointing fingers over who’s responsible - with the Department of Education saying the Department of Environmental Protection has to update infrastructure, while DEP says structural fixes on the school building are needed. “It’s just frustrating,” Williams said. “They both have to figure it out. They can’t keep passing the buck.” Both agencies said they were working on it but didn’t reveal specific plans. “There was flooding on Monday and it was confined to the cafeteria and a room in the basement, and they were cordoned off and not in use for the day. However, no instruction was affected and the flooded areas were cleared of water and cleaned before the next school day,” said DOE spokeswoman Continue Reading

Parents of failing IS 171 beg city not to shut down only middle school in neighborhood

East New York parents are begging city officials not to close a failing neighborhood middle school because it's the only one in the area. Intermediate School 171 on Ridgewood Ave. is one of 20 underachieving schools that could be axed. Parents said they'd rather see the school revamped than closed. "We can't give up on this school. There are so many great kids learning here," said PTA President Dennis Camacho, whose daughter, Maria, is in the sixth grade. Camacho said many of the more than 800 students at the school come from immigrant families, which makes it difficult for them to read and write English. "Closing the school isn't going to help the problem. It just tells the students that no one cares about them," said Camacho. The city Department of Education gave the school an F on its latest report card in June - a far cry from the A rating it got just two years ago. Only 23% of the students were reading at grade level, while 35% of the students' math skills were on par with the rest of the city. Education Department officials met with teachers yesterday and are planning to meet with parents today to discuss the school's future. "We'll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success," said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. Angry parents, who plan to rally before today's meeting with city officials, said the school is on the right track. "We have to fix the school," said Matilde Peña, whose 13-year-old son Joshua is in the eighth grade. "I've never seen the school work with parents like they are now. If we continue like this, we can improve this school," she said. Patricia Doval, whose son Zacary, 13, also is an eighth-grader at IS 171, said closing the school "wouldn't be the right thing to do. ... "What about the other students who still need their education? What's going to happen to them?" Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Mysterious fumes send more than a dozen Brooklyn middle school teachers and students to hospital

More than a dozen students and teachers at a Brooklyn middle school were sickened Friday after inhaling fumes that leaked from a bottle containing an unknown substance, fire officials said.An eighth-grade boy at Frederick Douglass Academy VIII in East New York is suspected of bringing a soda bottle to school filled with an unidentified concoction that was mixed with cough medicine, sources said. The open container was found around 11:30 a.m. after some of the sticky liquid dripped onto the floor and offensive fumes spread into the air.Eleven kids and two teachers fell ill with nausea and headaches and were taken to Kings County Hospital and Brookdale University Hospital for observation.Twenty more students were evaluated and treated at the scene by emergency workers. Disciplinary action against the student is pending, sources said. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Education reformers making muddle of middle schools in Memphis

My friend Burnett is trying to keep up with all the local school changes. It's not easy.He's been reading about middle-schoolers in Raleigh caught between two public school systems."I remember when it used to be city schools versus county schools," he said. "I guess times were simpler then. Now it seems to be city/county schools versus city/state schools. Very confusing."It's downright confounding.What we used to call Memphis City Schools are now Shelby County Schools, or SCS.Except for about 30 schools in Raleigh, Frayser, Orange Mound and other city neighborhoods that are in the Achievement School District, or ASD."What's that again?" Burnett asked.It's a special public school district set up by the state to take over some of the lowest-performing public schools."State officials in Nashville are running public schools in Memphis?"Not exactly. ► Read more:  Shelby County Schools board approves pursuit of legal action against state-run school district ► Related:  Shelby, Achievement school districts' fighting is 'like when my parents first divorced' Some ASD schools are run by state employees who live and work in Memphis. Those are called Achievement Schools.Other ASD schools are run by nonprofit organizations with names like Aspire and KIPP. Those are called charter schools."What's a charter school again?" Burnett asked.A charter school is a public school run by a nonprofit organization."So why do they call it a public school?"Charter schools are tax-funded, tuition-free, and subject to state academic standards and guidelines for testing, evaluation and safety."So why don't they call it a public school?"Charter schools have more freedom and resources to hire and fire teachers, enroll and remove students, change school hours, and so on."Sort of like private schools?"They don't have that much freedom or that many resources."All charter schools in Memphis are part of the ASD?"No. There are ASD charters like Continue Reading

Wilmington Montessori expanding into middle school

The Wilmington Montessori School will expand into seventh and eighth grade next fall by absorbing a school founded by two parents so entranced with the educational model they couldn’t bear to let their children leave it.Ehyal and Kerry Shweiki created PRIED Middle School in 2013 when their daughter, Ariel, graduated from sixth grade. They weren’t ready to walk away from Montessori education, which places kids in classes according to their cognitive development and often ends at age 12.  STORY: Taking risks for success at Olive B. Loss Elementary School in Bear STORY: Declining enrollment leads to unused space at Christina The break can seem unnatural to families when compared to traditional public schools, which start middle school at grade six and not grade seven, Kerry Shweiki said.“Ariel got into fifth grade and we really started thinking about where she was going to go when she graduated (from Wilmington Montessori),” she said, adding that many parents pull their kids out of Montessori schools early so they can start middle school with their peers.The Shweikis, who have four children altogether, did not want to do that. But sending Ariel to public school didn’t sound like a good option either. So they created PRIED, the Program for Rigor and Innovation in Education. Though not, strictly speaking, a Montessori school, it shares many of the same tenets and has a strong focus on highly personalized, hands-on learning, delivered in concordance with students' overall development. Many of the middle schoolers at PRIED, which has nine students this year, are former Wilmington Montessori School Students, Shweiki said. Now that the schools are combining, “families will no longer struggle with the disruption of moving their children between schools during the all-important middle years leading to high school.”  At present, Wilmington Montessori operates through the sixth Continue Reading

News saves science lab for Bronx middle school

A struggling Bronx middle school, slated to close in two years, was about to lose its science lab until the Daily News inquired about it. The lab at Middle School 399, opened four years ago at a cost of nearly a million dollars, was about to be dismantled to make room for a new school that's moving in, teachers said. "The decision was made without consideration for the students of 399," said Kevyn Jackman, the science coordinator, who teaches eighth-graders. After a call from The News, Education Department officials reversed course last week, saying all schools in the building would share the lab. "It's insane. Why would they dismantle a science lab?" asked Victoria Bousquet, a Coalition for Educational Justice parent advocate, who helped win science labs for all city middle school buildings by 2010. MS 399 teachers said shutting the lab was just one of the wrongheaded decisions related to the school's closure. The school will also lose its music teacher. Neither new school - Creston Academy or East Fordham Academy for the Arts - is hiring one. "Taking music out is not going to improve it. It's going to make it worse," said teacher Josh Levinson, who has taught for 11 years. Teachers recited MS 399's successes: proficient ratings on the Education Department's quality reviews; removal from the state's persistently dangerous list, and a new uniform policy under a new principal, who arrived last school year. Test scores also were up this spring more than the city average. Still, the school's overall test scores remain below average. "We're always happy when schools are improving, but the most dramatic and fastest turnarounds we've seen are through closure," Education Department spokeswoman Melody Meyer said. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Newest edition of guide touts New York City’s best public middle schools

School hasn't even started this year, but parents of many incoming fifth-graders already have their sights set on next year - middle school. Finding the right middle school can be a nearly year-long process filled with anxiety and confusion - but there are some great options, said Clara Hemphill, whose third edition of "New York City's Best Public Middle Schools: A Parents' Guide" comes out this week. "What you want is some place that provides both the specialization of a good high school and nurturing of good elementary," she said. Hemphill and researchers at visited nearly all of the city's 533 middle school programs. The best were written up in the book, and descriptions of the rest can be found on the Web site. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF THE CITY'S BEST MIDDLE SCHOOLS Following are summaries of their findings about 10 schools new to their book. Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering, Harlem This school, which opened in 2007, was dubbed by Hemphill as "one of the most promising new schools to open in recent years." Students benefit from a close relationship with Columbia University, which is helps staff develop courses. Field trips range from nature walks in Central Park to a marine biology expedition to Puerto Rico. Electives include multimedia design, mural painting and Spanish cuisine and culture. Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science, Bathgate, Bronx Set inside a bright yellow and green building on the Bathgate Education Campus, the school has distinguished itself by its small class sizes and high attendance rates. Trips to the New York Hall of Science create a thirst for math and science knowledge among students, and new teachers are brought on board in the spring to shadow veterans before starting in the fall. Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Students enter the two-year-old school through the purple Continue Reading

The Full list of ‘New York City’s Best Public Middle Schools’

The Full list of top schools in Clara Hemphill's "New York City's Best Public Middle Schools: A Parent's Guide": MANHATTAN New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math (NEST M) Tompkins Square Middle School, IS 839 East Side Community High School Manhattan Academy of Technology, PS/IS 126 IS 289 Greenwich Village Middle School, MS 896 Institute for Collaborative Education Salk School of Science Simon Baruch Middle School, MS 104 School of the Future Lab School for Collaborative Studies The Clinton School for Writers and Artists Professional Performing Arts School Robert F. Wagner Middle School, MS 167 East Side Middle School Hunter College High School Manhattan East School for Arts and Academics, MS 224 Young Women's Leadership School Center School, MS 243 Computer School Anderson School Booker T. Washington School, MS 54 Mott Hall II, MS 862 Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering Mott Hall School, IS 223 Frederick Douglass Academy THE BRONX David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141 Theatre Arts Production Company (TAPCO) William W. Niles School, MS 118 Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science Bronx Preparatory Charter School Mott Hall III KIPP Academy Charter School MS 101 BROOKLYN Eugenio Maria De Hostos Intermediate School, IS 318 Ronald Edmonds Learning Center, IS 113 Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters Math and Science Exploratory School, MS 447 Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, MS 448 William Alexander School, MS 51 New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts, MS 443 MS 88 Sunset Park Prep, MS 821 North Star Academy, MS 340 Medgar Evers Preparatory School at Medgar Evers College Crown School for Law and Journalism at PS 161 KIPP AMP Charter School Philippa Schuyler School, IS 383 IS 392 Andries Hudde School, IS 240 Mary White Continue Reading

Man dead after jumping from Upper East Side building, landing on middle school roof: cops

A 59-year-old man leapt from a luxury Upper East Side high-rise Saturday night, landing on the roof of a city school building, officials said. The suicidal man jumped from the roof of the Azure — a towering 34-story building on E. 91st St. and First Ave., where condos range from $1.7 million to $6.2 million — around 9:45 p.m., officials said. He plummeted 300 feet before slamming onto the roof of the four-story Middle School 114 next door to the skyscraper, officials said. The man died at the scene, officials said. A police source identified the man as Nicholas Cosio, but it was unclear if he lived in the building. The victim suffered from depression, according to police sources. The Azure was built in 2010 and boasts 128 residences with floor-to-ceiling windows. The building also has a 24-hour concierge service, a fitness center, game room, children’s playroom, a resident’s lounge and two landscaped terraces. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading