Officials blast shared school

Some Maspeth children could join these Metropolitan High School students who walked the halls on the first day of school last year. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

A controversial measure on whether to temporarily locate nine-graders from a Maspeth HS to the Metropolitan Campus in Forest Hills was expected to pass an education panel vote this week even after parents and Queens legislators voiced heated criticism of the plan.

The city Panel for Educational Policy was scheduled to vote at Brooklyn Technical High School Tuesday night on whether to temporarily locate ninth-graders from a Maspeth High School at the Metropolitan Campus at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills for one year.

The results were not available by press time, but parents and Queens educators were convinced the controversial measure would pass even after it came under sharp attack at a public meeting Feb. 9.

Officials also blasted the city Department of Education’s plan to temporarily house the students until the Maspeth school, at 54-40 74th St., is complete in September 2012, even sending two letters to city Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black.

The letters were signed by City Councilwomen Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and state Assemblymen Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven).

The first letter targeted a part of the proposal that might have allowed the relocation to last for more than a year. The latest letter, dated Feb. 22, asked Black to delay the vote since their concerns had not been addressed.

“We were advised that a response was forthcoming guaranteeing that the co-location would occur for only one year (2011-12). We have also asked that this request be clearly reflected in the EIS. To date we have not heard back from the Department of Education,” the letter said.

But the DOE said the temporary relocation would help alleviate overcrowding in nearby District 24, while not affecting the schools at the Metropolitan Campus.

“We want to get this new high school up and running as quickly as possible for Queens families, so it makes sense to give it a temporary home for a year while we build its permanent site,” said Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the department.

Nick Comaianni, of District 24, said that he approved of the plan provided it adhered to the schedule set forth in the proposal.

“They have to be sure that the incubation does not affect the schools already there,” he said.

Comaianni said he believed the proposal would pass during Tuesday night’s vote.

Kathryn Thome, of Community Education Council District 28 and parent of a Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School student, said she also thought the measure would pass, although she was not pleased.

Thome said she believed that all of the criticism from parents at the Feb. 6 meeting was in vain. Parents complained that the temporary relocation would interfere with rolling out the grades one year at a time and feared it would last longer than a year and cause overcrowding.

“It’s a farce, a guise of transparency,” Thome said, although not expressing the opinion of CDEC 28. “There were a lot of passionate people that made a lot of valid points and I don’t think it matters at all.”

Many of the parents at the Feb. 6 meeting said they thought the proposal was a foregone conclusion.

That feeling might have been solidified when the DOE held an information session on the Maspeth high school Feb. 16. In fliers handed out at the meeting, the school was billed as “Maspeth High School @ Metropolitan Avenue Campus” nearly two weeks before the vote.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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