P.S. 38 Rosedale
QUEENS NY 11422 Map
P.S. 38 Rosedale
NOVEMBER 2007 UPDATE: Former assistant principal, Cassandra A. Hundley, is now the principal of PS 38. She replaces Lenon Murray, who was appointed community superintendent of district 29 in July 2007.
FEBRUARY 2005 REVIEW: PS 38 is a school that suffers from a shortage of basic supplies. Still, it wins praise from parents. "Teachers are doing a terrific job," said one parent. "My daughter loves her teacher," said another, adding that principal Lenon Murray is "always accessible and responsive to problems." Such praise indicates the professional dedication at work in a school that is undersupplied and under-funded.
Our tour began with morning announcements. After Murray spoke, selected students stepped to the microphone to read poetry and prose over the intercom. Murray praised each one, saying later that to "teach here, you have to love children...I try to model that." All interviewed said they like working with Murray, who became principal when his predecessor retired in fall 2002. "We're fortunate to have a principal who supports us," said a teacher, "but we could use more paper and pencils. We need basic supplies." Each year, faculty members are given a $200 supply budget. One instructor said that she spent almost $2,000 out of pocket to set up her room the first year. The gym teacher said that more than half of his equipment is on loan from a summer camp where he teaches.
PS 38 suffered from overcrowding until fall 2002, when two new elementary schools in the district took some of its overflow. Enrollment at the time of our tour was 492, 50 less than it was in spring 2003. But some classes were still large. A 4th grade class had 36 pupils and another had 34. But most grades had no more than 23 children.
With its decreased enrollment, PS 38 lost funding. "I probably have the smallest budget in the district," Murray said. Still, children get art, physical education, and science. We watched 3rd graders organize virtual "manipulatives" -- objects for learning math -- and build virtual residential neighborhoods in the computer lab. Students, grades 3 -- 6 can play in the school band, because of a recurring grant from the cable music channel, VH1. We watched flute players in a stairwell rehearsing with their teacher.
Special programs and events abound. Parent coordinator Yvonne Goodman initiated the school's first Grandparents Day. The school has also offered a family movie night and a Black History night. At the time of our visit, children were getting ready for the PTA's Valentine's Day Dance.
Some classes meet in three temporary buildings behind the school. In one, we saw a packed 5th grade class with some students seated on the floor. Children from an absent teacher had been distributed among other 5th grade faculty members. "They're not even trying to find substitute teachers any more," an instructor said. "There's no money in the budget." Sometimes, students of absent teachers are placed in lower grades and become helpers, she explained. "They're denied an education for that day. Parents should be up in arms." Some faculty members bemoaned a new practice in which children serve suspensions in neighboring schools instead of at home. Classrooms sometimes accommodate suspended children from other schools for as long as a week.
Concern was raised over cafeteria supervision. "The lunchroom is bedlam," said an instructor. "They [lunchroom aides] let them go crazy down there," said another teacher, adding that students are sometimes seen on tabletops. Student behavior we observed in hallways, classrooms, and other places, however, was orderly enough.
PS 38 strongly encourages adherence to its school-uniform policy, said Goodman, though parents can sign an "opt-out" form at the beginning of each year.
English as a Second Language: A part-time ESL teacher serves PS 38's small English Language Learner population.
Special education: There are two "self-contained" classes -- one of 3rd and 4th graders with special needs and another of 5th and 6th graders with special needs.
After school: Until 3rd grade, children may participate in a weekday program of homework help, art, and recreational activities, for a fee. Fifth and 6th grade students pay to be on the basketball team or cheerleading squad. Test preparation classes, for grades 3 -- 5 , meet Tuesdays through Thursdays. (John E. Thomas, February 2005)