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Community Education Council 24

P.S. 91 Room 119 68-10 Central Avenue

Glendale, New York 11385
Phone: 718.418.8160 / Fax: 718.418.8168/

New York City Department of Education

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Nick Comaianni Dmytro Fedkowskyj Dominic Coticchio Ernest Cury Vacant
President 1St Vice President 2nd Vice President Treasurer Secretary

Council Members Department of Education Region 4 Officials

Lelani Bomani Reyes Irizarry
Nancy Carbone Regional Superintendent
Cecilia Chavez Charles Amundsen
Marge Kolb Deputy Superintendent
JoAnne Scichilone Catherine M. Powis
Community Superintendent


Minutes of Calendar Meeting
September 27, 2005
At PS 58, Maspeth, New York

1) Call to order and Roll Call -- The Calendar meeting convened at PS 58, at 7:00

• Roll Call – Present

• Lelani Bomani
• Nancy Carbone
• Cecilia Chavez
• Nick Comaianni
• Dominic Coticchio
• Ernest Cury
• Dmytro Fedkowskyj
• Marge Kolb
• William Kregler
• JoAnne Scichilone

Also in attendance:

Regional Superintendent Reyes Irizarry, Community Superintendent Catherine Powis,

Director of Operations Region 4, Sandy Brawer, Local Instructional Superintendents,
Region 4, Lillian Druck and Diane Kay
2) Approval of Minutes

On motion duly made and seconded, the minutes of the August 16, 2005 meeting were
unanimously approved.

3) Report of the President

• Nick Comaianni opened the meeting by thanking Mr. Irizarry for attending and for
his expedited approval of the plans for the five extensions that will be built in
District 24.

• Mr. Comaianni stated that the Office of Pupil Transportation denied the council’s
request for transportation between the PS 49 and 128 zones and IS 119. Mr.
Comaianni further stated that another letter will go out disagreeing with the findings
of OPT.

• Mr. Comaianni stated that as of late he has read some inaccuracies in local
newspapers regarding building additions and/or schools in District 24. He affirmed
that schools are being built all over District 24 including Woodside, Elmhurst,
Corona, Ridgewood, Glendale and Middle Village.

• Mr. Comaianni closed his report by explaining the way the additions would affect
our district. He broke them down into three categories which are overcrowding,
early class reduction and then K-8. He also cited an example as being if a school is
getting an extension, and there are four overcrowded classes per grade it would be
very easy to make six regular size classes and go K-8. He further stated that early
class size reduction would be affected, and then if there are available seats the
school would go K-8.

4) Report of the Community Superintendent

• Ms. Powis opened her report by stating that what Mr. Comaianni stated previously
summed it up in a nutshell; that in looking at additions the DOE looks at relieving
overcrowding first, the second priority is to reduce class sizes in those schools and
to allow principals to use state and federal class size reduction money. She added
that in addition to what Mr. Comaianni mentioned the DOE is looking to expand the
number of CTT classes. The DOE is always considering these additions to make
sure there are a number of seats whether they are 12-1-1 or CTT or other seats for
our D 24 students. There is a serious need for D24 special education seats in so that
students can attend school in their home areas. After all that is said and done, then
a K-8 model is looked at.
• Ms. Powis also spoke about D24’s Presidents Panel meeting the night before and
announced the new officers. Ms. Powis closed her report by announcing new
principals, assistant principals, some of whom are interim acting.

Nick Comaianni introduced Regional Superintendent Reyes Irizarry

• Mr. Irizarry stated that the expansion of seats has been a long time coming. This
is a work in progress and the DOE is no where near the end. It is just the
beginning and we are taking very small steps to make sure that we have more
seats than we’ve had for a long time in the district. The School Construction
Authority provided a list of schools that were capable of handling an addition.
The list was shared with this council, the Region, and the Local Instructional
Superintendents. The DOE is in the process of meeting with different
representatives from the SCA to finalize the number of seats and the type of
structures that will exist at all these sites. At the end of the day we’ll have 3 new
high schools; 5 additions; a new elementary school; and two early childhood
centers throughout the district. Our priorities are and have always been that every
child should be in a school building, not in a transportable. Our priority is to
reduce class size and make sure our students have the same opportunities as other
students in other districts. Hopefully we could begin to look at K-8 construction
to relieve overcrowding in our middle schools but also to provide continuity of
instruction in our schools.

Mr. Irizarry took questions from the Council.

• Nick Comaianni stated that some of the schools that are receiving additions will
eventually go K-8 and feed into IS 119. He asked what would be some of the
possibilities for IS 119. Mr. Irizarry responded that he could only speculate but the
truth of the matter is that many of our middle schools are overcrowded and that
there are many possibilities such as a 6-12 school. The DOE needs to look at
different factors and make sure the resources are there to provide quality education
when we consider the impact on 119.

• Dominic Coticchio stated that he was very impressed with the recent walkthrough
at PS 19 in which he participated. The building across the street which the DOE
already owns has not been demolished yet. He inquired as to why it is taking so
long for that work to start when PS 19 needs relief from overcrowding now. Mr.
Irizarry stated the building is in possession of the SCA and it is in planning stages
to open up a 1,000 seat school; it may be a K-5 school rather than the previously
planned K-8. It will be going to design at some point but he did not have the
schedule available.

• Marge Kolb stated that D24 is budgeted for 4,662 seats and pointed out that if the
DOE does all the planned construction it will equal 5,340 seats. It seems to her that
the DOE cannot do all this construction and if it can, it seems to her that D24
wouldn’t be able to do any more construction for the balance of the 5 year plan.
She then asked Mr. Irizarry to explain where D24 will get the money for these new
seats? Mr. Irizarry responded that discussions have been held because we are
interested in continuing to look for additions and new sites. We were told that the
capital plan is a fluid plan and it is not static. Where the greatest needs are the seats
could be shifted from different districts and regions. The truth of the matter is that
as sites become available different decisions have to be made as to where those
seats are going to go. Beyond the seats that are identified in those additions, after a
years worth of time passes the DOE will be willing to re look at our needs and
allocate seats accordingly, depending on the needs of the region at that time. Sandy
Brawer concurred.

• Marge Kolb stated the plan calls for an addition at PS 49 and a new school at PS
128. These two schools are 10 blocks apart and an excess of 600 new seats is being
created when those two schools have 800 children right now. If the DOE decides to
bring children in from another overcrowded school they need to look for a site in
the area where overcrowding exists. Ms. Kolb gave PS 19, 16, 7 and 239 as
examples. She is very concerned as to why we are locating 600 or 700 new seats in
Middle Village when they are needed in other parts of the district. Mr. Irizarry
responded that in the best of both worlds if the DOE has available sites and
available space for additions in the places where they are needed, which is all over
the district, certainly we would look at making decisions that really favor the
schools that you’ve mentioned. At this point we were provided with a list from
SCA indicating the only possible places that additions can be created. Now we
either create them or don’t create them, the money will be used elsewhere while we
wait for a space to open up. That list was discussed thoroughly with the SCA,
members of this council, with the Region and the LIS’s. The decision was based in
the interest of the schools selected. Certainly the DOE will continue to look for
additional spaces in the district in order to address some issues with in the schools
that you have mentioned. Marge Kolb responded that she asked Lorraine Grillo
why an extension wasn’t considered at PS 19 in their school yard and Ms. Grillo
responded that they are building a new school across the street. Ms. Kolb pointed
out that that does not exclude their yard from being capable of supporting an
addition. That new school is not going to relieve the overcrowding that exists in
Corona. Mr. Irizarry stated that clearly as the decisions are being made about
adding additions there are other possibilities that occur. At this time the DOE wants
to see the impact of that school in that community. That does not preclude
consideration of other additions. It is not out of the question at this time. We are
moving with the other additions because if we don’t move we might not get
anything because it is a fluid situation and people are grabbing at the same pot of
money. We have to expedite it. This is where we are at this time and this is how
we will proceed. Nick Comaianni added that we are looking everywhere to relieve
over crowding in our district. The bottom line is that, like Mr. Irizarry said, you
either use it or lose it. This is money that we fought hard for with petitions from
parents; people spoke up. The feasibility studies were done and it was found that
these schools were able to support additions and we jumped on it. We are
proceeding with it, everyone is very happy with it and this is something that is
going forward.

5) Nick Comaianni introduced Guest Speaker Amy Steiger, Regional Administrator

for Special Education

Ms. Steiger reported about the state of Special Education in Region 4. She stated
that the DOE is continuing to deepen the CTT initiative and has expanded it to many
schools. Wilson is also being expanded, and differentiated instruction and professional
development is continuing using one book, Brain Matters. The Region will also be
conducting study groups on Brain Matters which delves deeply into differentiated
instruction and how everyone learns differently. Ms. Steiger also stated that the CSE has
a new chairperson, Ester Morrell. Ms. Steiger went on to say that over the summer her
department had successfully placed thousands of children in special education classes
throughout Region 4. The DOE has tried very hard to place these children as close as
possible to their home zoned schools. The Region feels that is has achieved a
monumental goal in doing this. Hopefully, with the new schools that will be built we’ll
have more classes and children won’t have to travel.

• Joanne Scichilone asked if Ms. Steiger was able to tell her what schools are
presently practicing the Wilson to which Ms. Steiger responded that she did not
have it memorized but that the DOE started with a small amount of schools and are
expanding the list. Ms. Scichilone asked if it was possible to be furnished with a
list of schools and what programs they are using in terms of Wilson and other
programs. Ms. Scichilone then asked what professional development has been
provided for the teachers, paras, and principals regarding special education. Ms.
Steiger responded that Brain Matters has been given to all principals and it talks
about how the brain works; about how different people learn differently. The DOE
is going to be conducting study groups with principals and teachers; it will expand
to more and more teachers; we’ll talk more about how children learn and how their
brain works and how we can instruct our staff to meet the needs of all our children
by supporting differentiated instruction. Professional development will be with the
principals who will then provide it to the teachers. Mr. Irizarry added that we are
one of the few Regions that have adopted a policy on Collaborative Team Teaching.
He further stated that the DOE needed to have a model which identified the roles of
the CTT teachers as well as their goals. We have done a lot of work on
differentiated instruction as well. A number of assistant principals and principals
have joined us in order to understand how we work with different students who
have different needs in the classroom. We are looking to unify and provide teachers
direction, provide curriculum. One thing that distinguishes our special education
program from others is we are very focused on what happens in the classroom, the
interaction between teachers and students, and the training of all paraprofessionals
and teachers in order for them to do a more effective job. We are very proud of the
work we are doing. Ms. Scichilone then asked if it is possible for the CEC to be
provided with a list of professional development trainings to which Mr. Irizarry
replied in the affirmative. Amy Steiger added that the DOE will expand
professional development for paraprofessionals as well and that it will take place
over the course of the school year. Joanne Scichilone stated that she had received
word from a parent that said there were no CTT classes available at PS 88. What
will it take for them to open up another CTT class. Ms. Steiger responded that she
cannot answer specifically as to what that parent was told and by whom but she can
say that we always provide special education services as per the child’s IEP. We
are in the process of reconciling all of the classes in Region 4. We meet all
children’s needs. The final answer is that we are reconciling the classes, parents are
offered CTT classes, there’s a certain amount of time we have to wait legally until
the parents respond. The Region’s goal is to meet the children’s IEP and that is
what we will accomplish.

Nick Comaianni invited the public to ask questions regarding special education.

6) Resolutions – None

7) Report of the Committees

Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Chair of the Building, Zoning and Maintenance Committee

stated that back in January, a request was made by this committee to Constance Moran
(Queens Borough Commissioner) at the Department of Transportation to survey three
District 24 schools (P.S.128, 102 and 58) to receive of speed-bumps and to examine the
lack of school signage, which would advise motorists that they are entering school zones.
There are blind turns from certain intersections after leaving and approaching traffic
signals, which are cause for great concern. Motorists race to make the traffic light from
all directions. This creates a very dangerous situation for our children. The school
locations are as follows: PS 102: requested a speed bump and signage on Van Horn Street
from 55th Ave to 56th Ave; PS 128: requested a speed bump and signage on 69th place
from Juniper Blvd South to 65th Drive to Juniper Valley Road. PS 128 has an annex
located across 69th place and the children have to cross this street to enter the playground
near the main building which is located between 65th drive and Juniper Valley Road; PS
58 requested speed bumps and signage on 57th Ave from 74th Street to 72nd Place to
Mazeua Street. To our dismay, all of our requests were denied in August and their
explanations are as follows: The blocks are too short to provide adequate distance from
these intersections for motorist to safely reduce their speed or that the block is too wide
(44 feet) to safely install a speed bump.
Their response is completely unacceptable; it’s appalling that they think their response
would be acceptable to any parent living within these school communities, especially
since they currently drive over these types of speed bumps in their neighborhoods.
If motorist keep to the local speed limit on side streets without concerns of making a
green light there wouldn’t be any major concerns of reducing their speed.
We have a speed bump on 79th Street (near P.S. 49) between Juniper Blvd South &
Penelope Ave. This block is much shorter than Van Horn Street or 57th Ave, yet they
have a bump in the middle of the block without any signs to advise motorist of this
situation. The DOT response was forwarded to each of the affected school’s Principals &
PTA Presidents advising them to continue their quest and contact their local City Council
Member for much needed assistance in securing the necessary speed bumps and to
protect their students from any unsafe motorist situations.

Nancy Carbone, Chair of the Website Committee welcomed Lelani Bomani to the
committee. She also stated that new ideas will be implemented; we are in the process of
making the site a little more user friendly.

Joanne Scichilone, Chair of the Special Education Committee stated that CEC D24 had
received many complaints over the summer about placement and services in terms of
special education students including communications not being acknowledged or
returned. She asked the public to please contact the CEC office if this problem should
arise again. Ms. Scichilone announced her committee member, Lelani Bomani, who will
be helping out in all phases of special education issues in our district.

Marge Kolb, Chair of the Curriculum Committee stated that there are no planned
meetings as of today. She also reiterated that there will be no double testing in the 3rd,
5th, 6th and 7th grade. The state has agreed to return the results early enough so that New
York City would know which students must attend summer school. Practice state exams
can be viewed on the New York State Education Department website at www.nysed,gov.
Ms. Kolb also mentioned that PBS has been running a series on education on Friday
evenings called New York Voices and is available on the web via streaming video at .

8) Old Business

Nancy Carbone directed her comment to Ms. Powis, stating that she had been approached
by parents concerned about the issue of overcrowding. Ms. Carbone stated that last
month she requested from Ms. Powis in a letter some class sizes and she did receive a
response but she would like to get back to the parents with something more concrete.
The parents want to make sure schools are using the funding received to reduce class
sizes properly. Ms. Powis responded that September 30, 2005 is clearance of register day
and that will allow principals enough time to determine if children have moved and did
not notify the schools. We will have a definite sense of what the class sizes are by the
first of October.

Joanne Scichilone stated that last June she had requested from Ms. Powis information
regarding last years’ special education classes for the school year 2004-05 and she still
has not received it as of today. Ms. Powis responded that the last piece of information
Ms. Scichilone is awaiting will be available soon.

9) New Business
Nick Comaianni announced an opening on the Community Education Council District 24
and encouraged the public to apply.

10) Public Agenda Session

The council took questions from the public.

11) Adjournment –Nick Comaianni motioned to adjourn, Dmytro Fedkowskyj

seconded; meeting was adjourned at 10:05PM.