Pamela Wheaton

Pamela Wheaton

Pamela Wheaton has been on staff at Insideschools since 2002, serving as deputy director, project director and managing editor. She edits the blog, reviews schools and leads workshops about school choice. She collaborated with Hemphill on a series of guides to New York City’s best public schools. Wheaton was a producer of PBS television programs and a reporter and editor at the Buenos Aires Herald. Her two daughters graduated from New York City public schools.
Saturday, 17 November 2012 14:33

High school application deadline extended

Eighth graders will have a little more time to explore their high school options after the Department of Education announced Friday it would extend the application deadline until Dec. 10, one week later than the original due date of Dec. 3.

The DOE cited "hardships due to Hurricane Sandy" in an email message to families. Students may list up to 12 schools on their applications and turn them in to middle school guidance counselors by Monday, Dec. 10. This is the latest of several storm-related delays in the application season. This weekend 8th and 9th graders are taking the specialized high school exams, postponed from October because of Hurricane Sandy.

Students may use the extra time to tour schools and go to open houses, which were cancelled or postponed when schools were closed for a week.

Families researching high school options should also check out Insideschools videos about choosing a high school and our new list of noteworthy special education programs.  We have posted new reviews and slides shows of dozens of high schools,  the latest of which are posted on our homepage.

 

Thursday, 15 November 2012 11:22

Parents organize citywide charrette

Are you looking to have a voice in deciding policy issues for your child’s education? Have you been concerned about what mayoral control of the schools has done to parent participation and what it will be like under future mayors?

If so, join the conversation and brainstorming at the first Parents’ Charrette on Dec. 8 at PS/IS 276 in Battery Park City, organized by a new advocacy group called NYCpublic.org .

The event will focus on the question: What might REAL “parent engagement” look like in NYC’s public schools?

Organizers Liz Rosenberg, Kemala Karmen and Dionne Grayman -- all mothers from Brooklyn -- are inviting parents from every district to join them in an all day forum called a “charrette”-- defined as an “intensive creative brainstorming session in which a mixed group of stakeholders generate workable ideas and collaborate on an action plan.”

Monday, 12 November 2012 12:20

Free lunch in November, then price may rise

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."

Friday, 09 November 2012 15:54

Downtown schools to go home

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.

 

Thursday, 08 November 2012 12:39

Displaced kids don't need papers to enroll

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."

Wednesday, 07 November 2012 10:26

Five high schools still shelter homeless

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.

Monday, 05 November 2012 11:34

HS tests, auditions, open houses rescheduled

Eighth and 9th graders applying to high school for 2013 lost not only a week of classes thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but they also lost a busy week of school visits, open houses, specialized tests and auditions. 

The Education Department posted a list of changes for the specialized high school exams and some audition schools, but for individual schools, your best bet is to check the school's website or call.

We're compiling a list of changes as we hear of them and will update this page as we get new information. Parents and schools, please add additions to comments below or email us as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. /

Specialized high schools and audition schools:

Auditions at LaGuardia High School scheduled for Nov. 3-4, will be held Nov. 10-11

Auditions at Frank Sinatra scheduled for Nov. 3-4, will be held Nov. 10-11

Auditions for Professional Performing Arts School are rescheduled for Nov. 10-11. November 10 (drama and vocal), and  November 11 (musical theater and dance) for residents of Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx.  Note location change:  Dance auditions will be held at PPAS at 328 West 48 Street.

The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT scheduled for Oct. 28 will now be held on Nov. 18

The SHSAT scheduled for Nov. 3 will be held on Nov. 17.

Brooklyn

Edward R. Murrow High School: Edward R. Murrow HS will be having one more open house before applications are due. Their last open house is on Thursday, November 15 at 7:00 pm.  This meeting is for all students including those who are interested in our science and math program (Murrow Med, Master Program, MSTAR Science Research, Murrow Math Seminar), Instrumental/Vocal Music, Theater and Art Programs.  A
general presentation will also be made. Come to the Avenue L entrance. See the school's website for more information.

High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology: Wednesday and Thursday 9 am tours will continue through December. Call parent coordinator Barbara Yarshevitz with any questions: 718-759-3427.

Leon Goldstein open houses scheduled for Nov. 5 and 7 have been postponed. As of Nov. 5, new dates had not been set. Check the school's website for updates.

Madison High School will host its open house on Nov. 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm as scheduled.

Midwood High School: As of Monday, Nov. 5, all school tours are canceled. Check the school's website for updates.

IS 228 David Boody, Thursday, Nov. 15, 9-11 am and 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Kingsborough Early College Secondary School, Thursday, Nov. 15, 6:30-8:30 pm

Queens:

Bard High School Early College Queens: The Nov. 2 assessment was postponed to Saturday, Nov. 17 at 9 am and 12 noon. Students must re-register. See the website for details.

Bayside High School Open House Rescheduled to November 8th. Doors open at 6:30 pm; presentation at 7:00 PM 

Forest Hills High School: Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 at 6 pm in the auditorium for prospective parents and students.

John Bowne: Open house has been rescheduled for Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. See the school's website for details.

Parents and schools, please add additions to comments below or email us as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. /

Friday, 02 November 2012 17:11

57 schools won't reopen until Wednesday

UPDATE November 3: The list of heavily damaged schools that will not open on Monday was reduced from 65 to 57, the DOE announced late Friday night when it posted the list on its website. Of the 184 schools that did not have power on Friday, six regained power, leaving 178 without electricity as of 9 pm Friday. That number is expected to be reduced throughout the weekend as power continues to be restored all over the city.

Students at the 57 affected schools will not attend classes on Monday, or Tuesday when all city schools are closed for Election Day. Instead, on Wednesday, they will attend school at temporary locations that have been assigned to them. In some cases,entire schools have been relocated to one replacement location; in others, they have been split up by grades.

Hardest hit were the Rockaways in Queens. In District 27, some 20 schools are being relocated. In District 21, Coney Island Brooklyn, more than a dozen schools are being relocated. Students from John Dewey High School, where damage is extensive, are being sent to three different locations: 9th and 10th graders to Sheepshead Bay High School, 11th graders to James Madison and 12th graders to Lafayette. Four schools in Staten Island will be holding classes elsewhere, and six in Manhattan, including Bard High School Early College, whose students will travel to Queens to attend classes at its sister school, Bard High School II. No schools in the Bronx will be closed.

The school closings may continue to change over the weekend. We'll post updates as we get them, and be sure to check the DOE'S website for announcements.

Friday's report: Sixty-five Fifty-seven of the city's 1,700 schools hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy will not open until Wednesday, Nov. 7, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced on Friday afternoon. An additional 184  178 schools, many of them located in lower Manhattan, were still without power on Friday afternoon and it was not certain whether all would be able to open on Monday.

"We expect a sizable number to be powered up" by Monday, Walcott said, but noted that even if power returns, there may be more outages. The chancellor did not say which schools were seriously damaged, but Department of Education officials promised to post a list as soon as it is available.

Eight high schools will continue to house evacuees. Students will attend classes at these buildings, despite concerns about safety and hygiene at some of the evacuation sites. Ninety percent of schools will be open on Monday, Walcott said.

The DOE said it was possible some schools that move temporarily into other buildings will have a shorterned school day. That's what happened after September 11, when schools such as Stuyvesant, located near Ground Zero, moved to other school buildings for several weeks. Some saw their school day cut in half.

Friday, 02 November 2012 16:53

Queens, Bronx G&T sessions set for Nov. 7, 8

Information sessions about the admissions process for elementary school Gifted and Talented programs originally scheduled for this week will be held next week, the Education Department announced this afternoon.

In Queens, the information session will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Francis Lewis High School.

In the Bronx, the info session will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8 at PS 121.

Both sessions will go from 6-8 p.m. Applications for testing are due on Nov. 9. Parents 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 in the handbook, 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.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 17:01

Brooklyn Tech houses 500 Sandy evacuees

Brooklyn Technical High School has been transformed into a shelter for some 500 evacuees, mostly from adult care facilities in the Rockaways and Coney Island. Brooklyn Tech is one of 76 evacuation centers (including many public schools) for victims of super storm Sandy. Classrooms have been turned into dormitories with cots. Department of Education employees are providing meals, but volunteers are welcome to help out.

When we visited this afternoon, some of the evacuees were outdoors smoking, others were seated at old-fashioned desks lining the hallways. Stacks of donated magazines and books were piled up in the lobby and a steady stream of volunteers came in to offer help. Several dozen volunteers, some Brooklyn Tech parents and teachers, all wearing orange vests, were already on the job, accepting donations of towels, which were in short supply, and offers of help. Volunteers are especially needed at mealtime -- from 6-7 p.m. for dinner, and before 9 a.m. for breakfast. 
 
For the Brooklyn Tech custodial and food services staff, it was a normal work day, as they mopped down the hallways and cleaned classrooms. The Education Department's food service workers are busy giving out meals but help is needed to help shepherd people to the 7th floor cafeteria, volunteers said.
 
There was no word as to how long the city's largest high school will be home to evacuees from flooded areas of Brooklyn and Queens and whether teachers and staff will still be sharing the building with them when they arrive back to work on Friday.
 
And, no word yet whether Saturday's specialized high school exam, to be given at Brooklyn Tech, is on or off. We'll post something as soon as we know. As of Wednesday, the DOE hadn't made a decision.