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District 25 schools plan would ease overcrowding

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda

Region 3 Superintendent Judith Chin touted measures to alleviate overcrowding in School District 25 in northeast Queens and District 29 in southeast Queens last Thursday.

Three District 29 schools will convert from K-5 to K-8 beginning in September, Chin told a meeting of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic Association in Bay Terrace.

Chin was invited by the group to speak about the newly restructured and centralized New York City schools, a change instituted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein that was met with stiff opposition in northeast Queens’ high-performing School District 25 and District 26.

District 25 covers the neighborhoods of Flushing, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, College Point, while District 26 includes Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Auburndale, Glen Oaks and part of Queens Village. Both District 25 and 26 claim a portion of the Fresh Meadows area.

The restructuring grouped the city’s 32 community school districts into 10 instructional regions. Chin oversees teaching and learning in Region 3, which covers School Districts 25, 26, 28 stretching from Forest Hills to Jamaica and 29.

“There have been a lot of bumps in the road,” said Chin of the new system’s implementation. She said funding for the changes during the New York City fiscal crisis was “not as plentiful as it should have been when we do a major restructuring.”

Asked about overcrowding issues in Queens, the city’s most overcrowded borough for schools, Chin had some positive news for the audience.

Jamaica’s PS 268 and PS 116 and Laurelton’s PS 270 will convert to a lottery entry program when they expand to eighth grade from their current kindergarten through fifth grade levels, said Chin. The change to the School District 29 schools was set to come in September.

Chin also touted two new “nice little cozy elementary schools” in School District 25, which covers Flushing, Whitestone and Bay Terrace.

One was PS 242 in Flushing, which opened in 2001 and is named for former state Sen. Leonard Stavisky (D-Whitestone). The other is the proposed PS 244 on Franklin Avenue, also in Flushing and also a K-3 school.

PS 244 was saved from the budget ax by local legislators, it was announced earlier this month.

Chin also said the Department of Education would end this year its recruitment of certified math and science teachers from abroad.

The city had been looking for such teachers in Austria, Canada and the Philippines due to a scarcity of qualified U.S. teachers in those subjects, Chin said.

The program was being discontinued because “it was not cost-effective” and the gap was to be largely filled by New York City Teaching Fellows—professionals switching to education careers.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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