Education Council meets on issues around new school – QNS.com

Education Council meets on issues around new school

Some members of the District 27 Community Education Council (CEC) are worried that a new elementary school set to open this September in Woodhaven lacks a safety plan for the students.
The new school, P.S. 306, New York City Academy for Discovery, is located at 89-15 Woodhaven Boulevard, formerly St. Anthony’s Hospital.
“How can we open the school without some kind of safety plan?” asked Andrew Baumann, president of the CEC, at a meeting held at M.S. 226 in South Ozone Park on Monday night, May 19. “It is our charge to make sure that the children in this district are safe and secure.”
However, Bernard Lopez, a safety administrator for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) said, “Until the school officially opens, [we] can’t work on the plan.”
He said that a safety plan will “start to be developed in late August once [the] principal and staff are in the building.”
Lopez added that since 14 new schools will be opening in Queens this September, it would be difficult to put together a safety plan before the school year starts.
Another safety concern came from Dawn Marie LoBello, a CEC member, who said that parents are unable to obtain copies of their children’s school safety and evacuation plans.
But Lopez said that this information is not available to parents anymore.
“Until 9/11 [schools] gave out evacuation plans to parents,” he said. “As of 9/11, we are no longer allowed to divulge the information to parents.”
Lopez told the members of the CEC that if parents want to know where children are taken if a school is evacuated, they have a few options.
He said that parents could call 3-1-1 or visit the DOE web site and that “hopefully in the near future” parents will be able to receive text messages or phone calls alerting them to where their children have been taken if a school is evacuated.
Members of the CEC are also concerned with the safety of students who have to cross Woodhaven Boulevard
to get to P.S. 306.
David Hooks, Jr., a CEC member, said that because Woodhaven Boulevard is wide, it could potentially be dangerous for students to cross.
But Richie Scarpa, director of the Office of Pupil Transportation for the DOE, said that his people havedone a preliminary review of the area and found that there are two crossing guards at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 89th Avenue and two crossing guards at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.
He did however, say that he “would like to send an inspector to see if students who aren’t eligible [for transportation] should be granted a variance.”
In other news, three Chapter Leaders from public schools in District 27 spoke about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s school budget cuts.
“[We] need money for textbooks, for activities, especially in [the] needy inner-city,” said Taneeka Jones, chapter leader for P.S. 42 in Far Rockaway. “[We will] definitely see a dramatic change if money is taken away.”

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