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Has there been official word about making kindergarten mandatory and the cut-off birth date for admission? I heard there have been some changes in admissions rules this year.
There have been questions and confusion about this issue since last summer when the governor signed into law a bill authorizing New York City to "require minors who are five years of age on or before December first to attend kindergarten instruction."
The city has not yet acted to make kindergarten compulsory, but it has clarified that the cut-off birth date is still Dec. 31, not Dec. 1. While I can't say this is official, it is close.
Breakfast is always free for students in public schools but this month, lunch is free too. The Department of Education announced that free lunch will be available to all students in November, thanks to help from the federal government in the aftermath of the superstorm Sandy.
In separate news over the weekend, the mayor's office released a plan that calls for students to pay more for lunch in 2013.
Students who do not qualify for free or reduced lunches normally pay $1.50 per meal. That price would rise to $2.50 according to a proposal by Mayor Bloomberg which would modify the current Fiscal Year 2013 budget to deal with a shortfall. The higher price would bring in $4.4 million, the New York Times reports. The plan would also do away with reduced price lunches, according to the New York Post.
But for the month of November, students eat for free.
Here's what the Office of School Food says on its website: "School Food is pleased to announce that all school lunches for all students will be free for the whole month of November. Thanks to a special federal waiver, all lunches are free to all New York City students for the whole month. While the City continues to recover from Sandy, we hope you will enjoy our delicious and nutritious lunches at no cost. As always, breakfast is free for all students daily."
Two downtown high schools, Bard High School Early College and Urban Assembly New York Harbor will be back in their own buildings on Tuesday, after students and staff were temporarily located at other sites during the aftermath of the storm. [Students returned to Harbor on Friday, GothamSchools reports] In Manhattan, only Millennium High School on Broad Street, will remain in temporary locations on Tuesday, when schools reopen after the Monday Veteran's Day holiday.
The latest list of more than 30 relocated schools posted on Friday afternoon shows that the Manhattan schools have fared much better than those in low-lying areas of Brooklyn and Queens, many of which are still uninhabitable. In Red Hook, Brooklyn, the PS 15 building was not ready to reopen. Nor were five schools near Coney Island, including Mark Twain School for the Gifted & Talented.
Hardest hit was District 27, which includes the Rockaway Peninsula, where 20 schools remain unable to open in their buildings. Many students are simply not attending school at the temporary sites, with 26 schools reporting attendance below 20 percent, GothamSchools reported. The DOE is allowing students who don't want to - or cannot - make a long commute to their relocated schools, to enroll in schools closer to home. Many have enrolled in District 22 schools, including 79 kids at PS 207 in Marine Park, GothamSchools reports. Transportation has been a huge problem for families on the Rockways where there is no subway service at present. The DOE says that all K-8 schools will have busing for students onTuesday, although not all high schools will.
Here's the list of schools to reopen on Tuesday, as per GothamSchools:
Bard High School Early College, Manhattan
P.S. 253, Brooklyn
P.S. 105, Queens
P.S. 215, Queens
Wave Preparatory Elementary School, Queens
P.S. 197, Queens
Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School, Queens
knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy VI High School, Queens
Queens High School for Information, Research, and Technology
Academy of Medical Technology: A College Board School, Queens
Repairs will be ongoing throughout the long weekend and more schools may be able to reopen on Tuesday, the DOE said. Check the list on Monday for updates.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott will launch the long-awaited Parent Academy this Saturday at Long Island University (LIU) in Brooklyn, with a focus on aiding families who are victims of the hurricane. But, in the aftermath of the storm, it's not clear how many parents actually know about the event or will be able to attend.
In an email invitation sent to parent leaders on Tuesday morning, Jesse Mojica, head of the DOE's Division of Family and Community Engagement, said that Hurricane Sandy made plain the need for the community to come together at this workshop and, "identify the opportunities and resources for not only student success, but also those outlets for aid in the midst of Hurricane Sandy."
The workshop begins with an 8:30 a.m. breakfast and is open to public school parents, administrators and staff. The DOE and LIU, a partner in the Parent Academy, will provide guidance to help families apply for FEMA and other sources of disaster aid. Mental health experts will advise teachers and parents on how to deal with students affected by the disaster. Additionally, there will be three sessions at the workshop to tackle specific topics: preparing for parent teacher conferences, supporting better parent-teacher communication and, "how to become a more active and engaged participant in your child’s education,"said Stephanie Browne, a DOE spokesperson.
New Yorkers have responded to Hurricane Sandy with incredible generosity by donating immense amounts of money, food, clothes and time to help those hardest hit. Schools have been part of that effort, as well: five city schools are still providing temporary shelter to their neighbors affected by Sandy and at some city schools teachers and students spent their day off on Tuesday organizing relief efforts to help those still reeling from the Superstorm.
The city's Education Department released a guide for PTAs and Parent Associations who would like to get involved relief efforts. The FAQ sheet addresses legal questions, provides information on how to accept donations and on what fundraising activities are prohibited in schools, among other things.
Download the DOE's FAQ sheet here [PDF].
Children staying with friends and relatives or in shelters after Hurricane Sandy have the right to enroll in the school that's closest to their temporary home--and they don't need the usual documents showing where they live, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a letter to parents this week.
The Department of Education doesn't know how many children are staying in temporary shelters or doubled up with friends, but the number is certainly in the thousands. Some 26,000 students have been relocated to a different school because their school has structural damage or no power, a spokesman said.
On Thursday night, the chancellor said that students in relocated schools could enroll in schools closer to their homes, rather than travel to their school's temporary location. The chancellor's statement came after DOE enrollment officers told families that "only students whose families were displaced by the storm can enroll in different schools, not students whose schools were displaced by the storm," NY 1 reported. When asked about this by NY 1 reporter Lindsey Christ, Walcott clarified that students in relocated schools could enroll in schools nearer where they live.
Some neighborhood schools are already seeing an influx of displaced students. About seven children from the John Jay High School shelter attended PS 321 in Park Slope on Monday, said Principal Liz Phillips. Five more children who were living with families in the neighborhood also enrolled on Monday. "We’ll probably get a few more kids where families with kids ending up staying in the neighborhood," she said.
"A lot of schools are getting an overflow of kids," said Jennifer Pringle, director of NYS TEACHS, which runs a statewide hotline for schools and families about the educational rights of homeless children. And as some shelters close and families are relocated to other living situations, she said, "You’re looking at kids who are going to transition through several schools."
Parent/Teacher Conferences take place at most elementary schools on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 13 and 14. It's finally your chance to talk to your child's always-too-busy teacher!
Some elementary schools allot as little as ten minutes (which in my opinion is absurd!) so you want to make the most of whatever time is offered. I've had some ridiculous meetings, where families want to chat about recently viewed movies, share recipes or talk politics. It's all fine if we're socializing, but we're not – these are precious minutes to be used to focus upon one thing: your kid.
Here are some ideas to help organize yourself to get the most out of the Parent/Teacher Conference. (and watch my video below for more tips)
There are at least 43 schools still too damaged by Hurricane Sandy to reopen and many others which lost power and needed supplies. If you or your organization can help these schools, the Education Department has set up a way for you to do so.
The DOE posted a survey on its website asking for assistance from individuals and organizations. Those who can assist may simply fill out a survey, detailing what goods or services they can provide and how soon they can do so. The DOE will match the offers of help to the schools that need it.
Sign up here.
The Nov. 7 Gifted and Talented information session in Queens, cancelled twice due to storms, has been rescheduled.The new date is Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Frances Lewis High School, from 6-8 p.m. The Nov. 8 session at PS 121 in the Bronx is on. Education Department admissions officials will cover the G&T admissions process for students entering kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grade and 3rd grade in the 2013-14 school year.
Families now have until Nov. 16 to sign up for G&T testing for their children; that's a one week extension from the original Nov. 9 deadline. Most parents will submit the request for testing form online, but others may go to the enrollment office.
Parents who miss going to one of the sesions should be reassured that virtually all of the information covered in the sessions by DOE officials is in the G&T handbook (pdf).
One of the few bits of information not covered, that we heard mentioned at the Brooklyn and Manhattan sessions, was that 4-year-olds will not be expected to "bubble in" their responses. In fact, they are strongly encouraged not to do so. Parents who expressed concern that their children might be shy, or reluctant to go in to a room with a stranger, were reassured that all teachers administering the assessments are well-trained and accustomed to working with small children.
For more information, see the DOE's G&T page.
(updated Nov. 8 with new information)
Three large high schools opened to students Wednesday, even though they are still housing people made homeless by Hurricane Sandy. Two more buildings serving as shelters were scheduled to open on Thursday. In addition, thousands of students at 43 schools that were damaged by the storm have been assigned to attend classes at other buildings. Many of these students began classes on Wednesday and all will have new assignments by Thursday, the Department of Education said.
The DOE struggled to open as many schools as possible amid concerns about sanitary conditions at buildings that had been used as shelters for psychiatric patients, disabled people and families.The Graphic Arts Communications building in Manhattan, where very unsanitary conditions were reported over the past week, reopened Wedneday after all evacuees had been removed.
Brooklyn Tech, Hillcrest High School and Susan B. Wagner High School opened for students Wednesday but are still housiing storm evacuees. Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that students and the displaced people would be kept apart, using separate floors and different building entrances. "They will be in different areas, using different entrances," he told WNYC radio.
Several buildings that had been used as shelters are scheduled to open to students Thursday, including John Jay Educational Campus and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Brooklyn and schools on the George Washington campus in Manhattan. John Jay was no longer housing evacuees and custodians were working to clean it on Wednesday. However, FDR still had several hundreds evacuees, mostly families, on Wednesday, as did the four small schools on the George Washington campus in Washington Heights.