By Joe Anuta
About 100 parents, students and officials packed an auditorium at the District 28 Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills last week and many voiced opposition to the temporary placement of ninth graders from Maspeth in the building.
“Community Education Council 28 has concerns about the proposed incubation,” said Emily Ades, speaking from a panel at the front of the room. “Our long-term goals will be compromised with the short-term goal of [the Maspeth high school] opening a year earlier.”
Ades’s remarks were met with loud applause.
But dead silence followed the speech of Nick Comaianni, president of CEC 24, where the proposed Maspeth high school is to be built.
“We’re for the incubation as long as it doesn’t interfere with the current schools,” he said.
The plan would seat the ninth-grade of a currently non-existent Maspeth high school in the same building as the three schools that currently use the Metropolitan Campus Q686: Queens Metropolitan High School, the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School and PS 233.
Two of those schools are gradually phasing in their grades and will not be operating at full capacity for the 2011-12 school year. According to the city Department of Education, the school will be running at 61 percent capacity, which is why the department thinks there is room for one more school.
“Q686 has sufficient capacity to accommodate PS 233 along with Queens Metropolitan and Metropolitan Expeditionary when all schools reach full scale, but the building will be underutilized while the schools gradually phase in new grades,” the department said in a statement.
The Maspeth HS building is still under construction and slated to be completed next year. The DOE wants to give the school a head-start by enrolling students before it is done by temporarily seating the kids at Q686.
But parents were not happy.
“There is no guarantee that the number of Maspeth students would be limited to the numbers listed in the educational impact study,” said Ades, who feared the new students could crowd out the school’s regular students.
The educational impact study released by the DOE predicted that the proposed Maspeth HS would enroll less than 250 students. Parents cited the fact that the proposed enrollment for Queens Metropolitan HS was around that same number, yet grew to 450, a statistic that City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) also mentioned.
Koslowitz, along with state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), wanted an amendment to the proposal that would guarantee the Maspeth high school could only stay for one year. Currently the proposal says that if the Maspeth school needs to stay for another year, another educational impact study will be done.
Koslowitz, Hevesi, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) sent a letter to city Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black demanding a year time limit.
But other parents felt betrayed by the DOE’s plan.
Debra Dillingham, whose child attends Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, said the department told parents that “phasing in” the school one grade at a time provides the best academic experience for the students. She said even when she and other parents wanted to add 100 extra seats to next year’s seventh-grade class, the DOE denied the request on the grounds that it would disturb the phasing-in process.
“They changed their position within six months,” she said.
But instead of seventh-graders from District 28, the department proposed to seat the Maspeth high school students.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail or by phone by 718-260-4566.