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City must reassure Maspeth on longevity of high school

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An open letter to city Schools Chancellor Cathie Black:

We would like to welcome you as our new chancellor and look forward to working with you to improve the quality of education for youngsters in our community.

We would like to bring an important issue to your attention that has caused a great deal of concern for elected officials, community leaders and our constituents. This past fall, School Districts 24 and 28 opened a new school campus for the children of our community. The campus is composed of two schools with sixth- through 12th-graders occupying one building and the other housing ninth- through 12th-grade high school students.

We are thrilled that this project has come to fruition, as it has been a 15-plus-year battle to turn this parcel of land into much-needed schools for our area. We write to you for your immediate attention with a recent occurrence that was not agreed upon in any of our negotiations with the city Department of Education: the proposed incubation of the Maspeth High School, consisting of a 9th-grade class of approximately 100 students, on the Metro Campus.

While our apprehensions are many, the main concern is the need to obtain in writing from the DOE that this school is only temporary for one year. We are requesting in writing a commitment from the DOE that these students will be moved to their new building after the 2011-12 school year.

We are also concerned about the impact of additional students on the two existing schools. To date, we have received no plan regarding the usage of space between the three schools, the need for improvements to Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus access to the area and arrival and dismissal times among many other issues. Assuring that the schools co-exist smoothly is of primary concern to us, the parents and the community.

We are concerned that the placement of the Maspeth school in the building does not disturb the culture of the existing students. There will be shared spaces — gym, lunch room and auditorium — of which the planning of slotting times for both must be worked out. This is critical to the smooth running of the school for all students.

We will gladly make time to further discuss this matter of great importance, but cannot stress enough the need to obtain a written commitment from the DOE that this incubator school is only temporary for one year.

Karen Koslowitz

City Councilwoman

Forest Hills

Elizabeth Crowley

Councilwoman

Forest Hills

Andrew Hevesi

State Assemblyman

Forest Hills

Mike Miller

Assemblyman

Woodhaven

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