Boro students request moves to top schools

By Alex Davidson

Queens students requesting transfers from under-performing to well-performing schools may soon get their wish since city Department of Education statistics show more than 16,000 students are requesting to move from one school to another.

The agency got more than 50,000 responses to a letter sent to parents throughout the city advertising their options under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to Paul Rose, spokesman for the DOE. The act, signed into law Jan. 8, 2002, allows students at under-performingschools to either transfer or stay and request tutoring or enrollment in an after-school program.

The deadline for the responses was March 31, but figures had not yet been updated at the time of publication.

“We’ve reached out to parents and families; that would explain the increase,” Rose said. “There are currently 228,000 students eligible for transfers under current guidelines.”

Rose said only 3,000 students last year asked for a transfer, and half, or about 1,500, were granted the request. He said the DOE also notified parents about their options by placing advertisements in newspapers, providing information on its own Web site and making phone calls to more than 200,000 parents.

Queens has the most overcrowded public schools in the city, according to a recent report issued by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum which said the city Department of Education reported borough high schools operating at 117 percent of capacity.

Rose said there are more than 1.1 million students in the city’s school system that includes 32 individual school districts.

But parents and local legislators have criticized the federal law as only moving students around rather than helping to raise up under-performing schools.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens) has called for amendments to limit the distance students could travel to new schools and to provide districts with supplementary funding to pay for increases in transportation costs.

According to DOE statistics, only Districts 25 and 26 in Queens could possibly accept transfer students, while the remaining five school districts in the borough have a surplus of students.

District 24 in western Queens is the most crowded district in the city and includes the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood and Woodside. It has 37,686 students enrolled, which is 3,799 more students than it should have, putting it at 111 percent of capacity.

District 28’s elementary schools are running at 102 percent of capacity, while their middle schools are operating at 82 percent of capacity.

Other overcrowded districts include: District 27 in Howard Beach, running at 103 percent of capacity; District 29 in Queens Village, running at 104 percent of capacity; and District 30 in Jackson Heights, running at 101 percent of capacity.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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