Boro education rep to oppose altering schools at panel vote – QNS.com

Boro education rep to oppose altering schools at panel vote

Flushing HS
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

The Queens representative on the city Panel for Education Policy said he intends to vote against proposals to co-locate and phase out borough high schools at the panel’s meeting next week.

At Monday night’s meeting in Brooklyn, the panel’s 11 voting members will rule on four separate proposals to co-locate new schools within Newtown and Flushing high schools and phase out and replace two schools at the Campus Magnet Complex in Cambria Heights, along with other significant changes at schools across the city.

“As far as the high school co-locations go, I won’t be supporting those,” said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, who was appointed to the panel by Borough President Helen Marshall in 2008.

Citing a number of factors, including low grades on the school’s annual progress reports, the city Department of Education is proposing to reduce the enrollment at Newtown HS by about 320 students over the next four years to make room for a new school that will focus on recently arrived immigrants.

The department has similar plans for Flushing High, where it plans to trim enrollment by about 860 students to make way for a school with a Chinese bilingual program.

Last year, against Fedkowskyj’s protestations, the panel voted to close and reopen both high schools, but the court later struck the plan down.

The PEP will also vote Monday evening to completely phase out the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship HS and the Law, Government and Community Service HS in Cambria Heights and replace them with new schools.

Fedkowskyj contended all of the schools’ struggles could be blamed on changes in leadership and said new changes would derail any progress already underway.

“The issues surrounding the schools being phased out have to do with leadership changes,” he said. “These schools have fine leaders who are finally getting things in order. Any change to that now will disrupt the stability those principals have already established.”

While each borough president appoints a member to the panel, the majority of the voting members are appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the PEP has never voted against a DOE proposal.

Monday night’s PEP vote will be the last under the Bloomberg administration, and Fedkowskyj said he found his five years on the panel to be both frustrating and rewarding.

“It’s frustrating because obviously I’m just one voice on a panel governed by a majority of mayoral appointees,” he said. “But it’s also rewarding in that I’ve had input on policies that affect students citywide.”

The panel will also vote on a proposal to put a moratorium on co-locations, school closings and phase-outs.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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