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DOE will hold District 30 community meetings on G&T program

DOE will hold District 30 community meetings on G&T program
There will be community discussions about District 30’s Gifted & Talented classes after the new year, according to the district’s superintendent.
Photo by Bill Parry
By Patrick Donachie

City Department of Education officials will be holding discussion meetings with Astoria community members who were concerned that elementary school students enrolled in the Gifted and Talented program at Public School 122 would no longer automatically enroll in the G&T middle-school program. The news modified an announcement earlier this month that parents in PS 122 may lose automatic enrollment in a few years.

District 30 Superintendent Dr. Philip A. Composto sent a letter on Dec. 8 saying that automatic enrollment for PS 122 elementary students would end in 2020. A Dec. 22 letter from Composto walked back his earlier statement, though the second letter does not seem to remove the possibility that automatic enrollment could eventually be discontinued.

“As you are already aware, select District 30 elementary G&T students are currently given an admissions priority to particular middle school G&T programs,” the letter said. “As we work to develop equity and excellence and explore changes, we welcome feedback from families and school communities on this important issue. We will hold discussion meetings after the winter break, with dates to be announced in early January.”

PS 122, located at 21-21 Ditmas Blvd., is a K-8 school with elementary classes for general and special education and G&T classes through eighth grade. Any student enrolled in PS 122’s elementary G&T program automatically enrolls into the school’s middle-school G&T program, according to a regulation stipulated in a 2013 DOE memo.

Even as automatic enrollment was set to discontinue throughout the district in 2019, elementary school students in PS 122 were supposed to retain their priority seating status. State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) called the school’s G&T program “a valued treasure” in the community.

“The current admissions process is the result of years of hard work that strikes the appropriate balance in the best interests of our children,” he said. “No changes to that process should occur unless affected families and community representatives are involved and approve of any alterations.”

In the original Dec. 8 letter, Composto said that all students in a fifth-grade G&T program in the district would be “evaluated for placement” in a G&T program, along with other interested students in the district. Composto said there would be no priority given for attending an elementary G&T program.

Parents at PS 122 decried the news, saying it was unfair to families who had planned on automatic enrollment of their children into PS 122’s middle school G&T program, while some questioned whether it was right to have middle school G&T seats at PS 122 unavailable because of automatic enrollment.

Composto’s Dec. 22 letter said the change in policy came after “feedback to an initial letter sent earlier this month about potential changes to the current system.”

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona[email protected]cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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