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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
Nick Comaianni Dmytro Fedkowskyj Debbie Tscherne Ernest Cury Secretary
President 1St Vice President 2nd Vice President Treasurer Shwe Zin OO

Council Members Department of Education Officials

Maria D’Amico Catherine M. Powis
Lelani Bomani Community Superintendent District 24
Bill Kregler
Brian Rafferty
German Sarmiento
Peter Vercessi


Minutes of Calendar Meeting
September 25, 2007
PS 58, School of Heroes, 72-24 Grand Avenue, Maspeth, NY

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

Roll Call – Present

Maria D’Amico
Nick Comaianni
Dmytro Fedkowskyj
Bill Kregler
Winnie OO
Brian Rafferty
German Sarmiento
Debbie Tscherne
Peter Vercessi

Roll Call Absent

Ernest Cury
Evelyn Sanchez

Also in attendance

Ms. Catherine Powis, Community Superintendent; Ms. Martine Guerrier, Chief Family
Engagement Officer; Ms. Jacqueline Lipson, Community Education Council
Administrative Coordinator and New York State Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette and
Representatives from La Cima Charter School.
2) Vote on New Member – Lelani Bomani

Nick Comaianni motioned to vote on the election of new member Lelani Bomani; roll
was called; Ms. Bomani’s application to sit on the council was unanimously approved.

Mr. Comaianni welcomed Ms. Bomani back to the council.

3) Approval of Minutes

Nick Comaianni motioned to approve the minutes of August 28, 2007. Dmytro
Fedkowskyj seconded; roll was called and minutes were unanimously approved.

4) Report of the President

Mr. Comaianni stated that there is a bus that goes through Glendale to IS 119. He stated
that he found out that the bus went along its route at half capacity and thus sent a letter to
the Office of Pupil Transportation requesting the route be opened to students who need
transportation to IS 119 but are not eligible. The Office of Pupil Transportation denied
his request using the excuse that if they bent the rules for one school they would have to
bend the rules city wide and it would simply cost too much money. Mr. Comaianni
stated that the above mentioned issue would not be a problem if there were no mayoral
control of the District.

5) Report of the Community Superintendent

Charter School Presentation:

Community Education Council 24 has agreed to host this public hearing to solicit
comments from the community on the La Cima Charter School(s). The application for
this charter school, which is proposed to serve students in this community, is currently
under review by the Department of Education, the entity empowered by the State of New
York to authorize new charter schools. This presentation will include information
regarding the educational and operational program proposed by the applicant team, not
the location where the school will be located. If the Department intends for an approved
charter school to share space within a DOE public school, a separate public meeting will
be planned to address that topic. In the meantime, this evening’s presentation is an
opportunity for anyone who wishes to comment on the newly proposed charter school to
do so at this meeting or via email afterwards.

Charter schools are independent public schools, governed by their own not-for-profit
boards of directors, which operate on the terms of five year performance contracts known
as charters. The Department of Education, the State University of New York, and the
New York State Board of Regents are authorized to approve and renew charter schools in
New York. These public entities also monitor each school to ensure that it is meeting
appropriate performance goals, delivering its proposed educational program and is in
compliance with applicable state and federal laws
Feedback forms are available at the security desk. Your feedback is valuable to the
approval process. You can also submit comments to
You can also submit written comment to
If you have general questions about charter schools please visit


Chancellor Klein has announced that New York City has won the Broad Prize for Urban
Education, the nation’s largest and most prestigious education award. This prize is based,
first and foremost, on performance. To win, a school district must demonstrate the
greatest progress in raising students’ academic performance, while also reducing the
achievement gap between ethnic groups and low-income students. Ms. Powis stated that
winning this prize is a true honor—one that should make us all very proud. Winning the
Broad Prize is yet another sign that what we are doing in our schools and classrooms is
revolutionary. We are having a direct, positive impact on the students we serve. We are
making more progress than school districts throughout our country—even as we are
serving more students.

The Department of Education obviously have a lot more work to do before all students
are receiving the education they need and deserve. Ms. Powis stated that there is no doubt
in her mind that the DOE on the right track.

Ms. Powis stated that in May the Department of Education invited parents, teachers, and
middle and high school students to complete surveys about their schools. These surveys
were collected in June, analyzed and are now available for public viewing on the DOE
website. She was pleased to announce that District 24 once again proved a strongly
involved District. She further stated that District 24 is the second top District in
responding to the survey in all categories of parents (10,223), students (9,498), and
teachers (1,245).

Ms. Powis stated that the NYC Family Guide will be distributed this week in all schools.
The Guide contains useful information for families about the City’s Children First school
reforms, what students are learning, and the kinds of services that are available to the
City’s public school students. It also provides information about how families can get
involved in their children’s education—and how they can find answers, help, and
support. The guide is also available on line in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole,
Korean, Russian Spanish, and Urdu, as well as English at

Ms. Powis stated that registration for new students or students seeking placement at a
school other than their zoned school should go to the Integrated Service Center located at
28-11 Queens Plaza North, Long Island City. She further stated that the Citywide High
School Fair will be held on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30 at
Brooklyn Technical High School (29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn). She explained that
this fair provides families an opportunity to learn about the vast range of high school
choices throughout the City. It also provides schools a chance to recruit students. The fair
will be open to the public from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on both days. Please visit to access a flyer that you can post and distribute to
your parent coordinator, guidance counselor, students, and parents.

Ms. Powis stated that the New York City Department of Education, the Office of Public
and Community Affairs, the Office of English Language Learners, the Office for Family
Engagement and Advocacy and Learning Leaders will be co-sponsoring a conference on
October 10, 2007 at Columbia University. The subject of the conference is “Setting High
Expectations for Your Child”. Ms. Powis informed the public that if anyone is interested
in attending can get a registration form their Parent Coordinator.

Ms. Powis stated that the New York City Department of Education invites all families to
“Ask Martine and Friends” on Wednesday September 26, 2007 at P.S. 95, located at 179-
0l 90th Avenue, Jamaica from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Childcare will be provided for
children 5-12 years old. Pre-registration is required. Please RSVP at 212-374-0801 or

5a) Ms. Powis introduced Andrea Zayas and Heather Caudill Representatives of La
Cima Charter School

Andrea Zayas, Principal of the proposed charter school thanked the council and informed
the public she would speak of some key elements of La Cima. She stated that La Cima in
Spanish means the highest peak of a mountain. She then explained charter schools as
being public, free schools, and are open to all students regardless of ethnicity, income,
grades or special needs. The mission of La Cima is to prepare students for success
through an academically diverse, vigorous dual language program. The students of La
Cima will learn English and Spanish and will be engaged in meaningful, challenging
learning in math, science, social studies and the arts. The goal of La Cima is bilingualism
and biliteracy for all. She stated that they plan to meet this goal through instituting a
vigorous curriculum, extended day and extended year.

Ms. Heather Caudill Assistant Principal of the proposed charter school stated that if
approved La Cima will open in the fall of the 2008/9 school year and will be located in
the Corona-Jackson Heights area. She further stated that initial enrollment for
Kindergarten and First grade students will be 160 and a Kindergarten will be added every
year until the school reaches K-5. She also stated that the school is committed to capping
class size at 22. She closed her presentation by stating that the school believes that the
family of each student functions as a partner of the school and the administrators and
teachers will work closely with parents and guardians in order to ensure the academic
success of each student.

The principal and vice principal of the proposed charter school took questions from the
Mr. Fedkowskyj asked that if a child was monolingual does that increase or decrease
their chances of getting into La Cima to which Ms. Zayas stated that La Cima’s goal is to
meet the needs of all students. Mr. Fedkowskyj then asked where the funding will come
from to which Ms. Zayas stated that the funding for charter schools comes from the state
to which Mr. Fedkowskyj reiterated his question. He asked further if the funding is
coming from the state would any funding owed to the city be used for charter schools to
which Ms. Zayas did not have an answer and guided Mr. Fedkowskyj’s question to the
NYS Education Department.

Mr. Comaianni stated that he had the same concerns as Mr. Fedkowskyj including the
reduction of class size; Mr. Comaianni stated that the money should be used to reduce
class size throughout the District. Mr. Comaianni also asked where students who do not
speak English or Spanish fit in to which Ms. Zayas stated that Queens is a very diverse
area and the goal of La Cima is to support all students in NYC. If there is a student who
comes to us from for example India the school will incorporate that culture into their
education. Mr. Comaianni stated that his home school cannot even find a teacher of a
second language and the DOE should fix the problem for all schools who are currently
not offering a foreign language instruction.

Mr. Comaianni stated that if there is any space is found in District 24 his preference
would be to build a school for all children versus a charter school.

Peter Vercessi asked if the ultimate goal of La Cima is to have students become English
proficient to which Ms. Zayas stated that he was correct and that core subjects would be
taught in English.

Mr. Kregler stated that his problem with charter schools in District 24 is space
limitations. He then asked which school in the Corona/Jackson Heights area might house
La Cima to which Ms. Zayas stated that there was no identified location thus far.

The council took questions from the audience.

7) Guest Speaker Martine Guerrier, Chief Family Engagement Officer

Nick Comaianni introduced Ms. Martine Guerrier.

Ms. Guerrier stated that she has been in her current position for 6 months and is still in
the process of finding out many things. She stated that the first thing she has done was
change the name of her division to the Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy
(OFEA). OFEA is the place where PTA, Presidents Council, other parent organizations,
CPAC, etc can go to discuss educational issues and get information and more importantly
to work together and to discuss what is working and what is not working. Our job is to
provide information on parent rights, student rights, busing, enrollment, suspension, any
issue that involves family and students. OFEA seeks to bring together all parent and
community organizations to help kids develop into the kind of adults we want them to be.
The mission of OFEA is to make sure all schools have the support they need.

Dmytro Fedkowskyj asked what OFEA is doing to help make School Leadership Teams
and PTA’s more efficient to which Ms. Guerrier replied that OFEA is supplying more
direct support, specifically regarding elections. District Family Advocates will work with
the principals during SLT and PTA meetings. OFEA is also developing training modules
and we are assuring that meetings are being held and that attendance is being taken.
OFEA is helping the SLT and PTA’s work together more efficiently.

Mr. Fedkowskyj asked what Ms. Guerrier’s position was on the cell phone ban in schools
to which Ms. Guerrier stated that OFEA has not been asked to work together with the
Mayor regarding the cell phone ban. She did however give an example of a student who
brought a cell phone to school and subsequently called his friends from another school to
help him assault one of his classmates. Ms. Guerrier stated that had the student not had a
cell phone he would not have been able to call his friends to which Mr. Fedkowskyj
stated that this is one particular incident and does not reflect the majority of ways in
which student use cell phones, especially in particular in cases of emergencies and that
this bad experience should not ruin it for the million students that attend public school.

Mr. Comaianni asked Ms. Guerrier asked if charter schools fall under the rule of the
Chancellor and if the school is funded by the state does it fall under the purview of the
CEC and the Community Superintendent to which Ms. Guerrier answered that her office
will collect information on the matter.

Ms. Guerrier took questions from the audience.

During the question and answer session an unidentified woman stated that she had a
problem with her child’s education that she couldn’t get resolved at which point Mr.
Kregler stated that their should be a ‘help desk’ at the beginning of each meeting in so
that parents can come directly to officials with the issues they may be facing to which
Mr. Guerrier stated that the idea of a ‘help desk’ was excellent and she pledged to help
the CEC make it happen.

Mr. Comaianni introduced guest speaker Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette

Assemblyman Lafayette stated that the city budget was passed on time and that the city
was treated exceptionally well. He further stated that this budget was $740 million
dollars over the CFE funds expected for this year. He further stated that he had spoken to
Chancellor Klein before the budget was passed and the Chancellor informed him that he
does not believe in smaller class sizes and that smaller class sizes have nothing to do with
excellence, and that excellent teachers compensate for larger classes. The Assemblyman
then asked the Chancellor if the excellent teacher could accomplish even more if she/he
had a smaller class to work with to which the Chancellor replied that he’d have to hire
new teachers to reduce class size and gave other excuses regarding teachers not wanting
to work in certain areas of New York and so forth. Assemblyman Lafayette stated that
he was shocked at his answer. He further stated that the Mayor and the Chancellor are
not educators. Assemblyman Lafayette stated that he received charts from the
Independent Budget Office showing that no new seats were created when the Mayor
states that two hundred new schools are being built but in actuality it is taking one school
and cutting it into 2 schools and then possibly adding a charter school and this is where
the DOE is coming up with the creation of 200 new schools. The Contract for Excellence
says and acknowledges that more schools are needed in NYC and even if it is signed and
moves forward the Assemblyman questioned what would happen to the students this
year. He feels that new teachers should be added as it is a faster response to the problem
of large class sizes. Assemblyman Lafayette then stated that the results of charter
schools have not been what were anticipated and they are not working out as well as they
could have. The results are troubling in that if a student attends a charter school at the
beginning of the year and then leaves mid-year the funding that the school received for
that student remains with the school and doesn’t follow the student.

Assemblyman Lafayette then asked the council to keep up the good work they have been
doing for the past three years.

Assemblyman Lafayette took questions from the public.

8) Report of the Committees

Brian Rafferty, Chair of the Website Committee stated that the website is about 70%
done and asked the council members to submit their biographies. He also stated that
headshots will be taken shortly. Further he stated there will be links to all the schools in
D24 and that all the minutes will be uploaded as well.

Debbie Tscherne, Chair of the Curriculum Committee stated that she went to IS 61
and was impressed at what was happening their by way on academic acceleration and
enrichment. The Assistant Principal was readily available and that the Gifted and
Talented program is running very well at the school. She also stated that she would be
attending meeting in the future regarding Gifted and Talented programs.

9) Old Business – None

10) New Business – None

11) Public Agenda Session

The council took questions from the public.

12) Adjournment

Nick Comaianni motioned to adjourn; Debbie Tscherne seconded. The meeting was
adjourned at 9:45