By Alex Davidson
The president of Community School Board 25 expressed confusion Monday after city Department of Education officials announced they were adding PS 130 in Bayside to the list of top-performing schools.
Arlene Fleishman said she did not know what criteria were used when Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced the list of the top 208 schools in the city. A day later, DOE officials added PS 130, an early childhood center offering kindergarten through third-grade classes at 200-01 42nd Ave., to the list that now numbers 209.
“I don't know what kind of games [school officials] are playing,” said Fleishman of the school that was originally left off the top schools list because it only had one eligible grade that took the state standardized English and math tests. “I believe a lot of our schools should be on that list. I wish there were more.”
District 25 now has 11 schools on the list of top-performing schools. Fleishman said she was confused by the city's decision to divide all 1,200 city schools into three categories – top, middle and low – then take the top 20 percent within those categories and classify them as “top performers.”
The selected schools, according to Klein, were identified for exemption based on academic achievement, including improvements in academic performance and student need. He said city and state standardized test results were used to measure the level of achievement at elementary, middle and high schools as well as the ethnic and economic compositions at each site.
PS 130 is included in School District 25 because more than 15 years ago, District 26 was classified as an “under-utilized” district and the city forced it to relinquish control of the school, said School Board 26 President Sharon Maurer. She said the school was first closed, then considered as a possible sales property and eventually became used as a site for citywide special education before it started to accept students from neighboring District 25.
Klein said individual schools can appeal the city's decision not to place them on the list and also apply for waivers if they believe they should operate independent of the unified curriculum.
Fleishman said PS 130 already uses the proposed unified curriculum that Klein hopes to introduce at the schools that did not make the top schools list. She said she was confused by the rationale of how and why the DOE would allow PS 130 to be independent of the English curriculum that Klein thinks is key to improving standardized test scores.
“Everything is very secretive,” she said. “I don't think we're going to get any answers if we ask.”
A Department of Education spokesman said the school has the decision to either maintain or switch its current curriculum because it is designated a top school.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.