BY TRONE DOWD
Concerned parents and faculty from PS 42 in Arverne gathered outside Queens Borough Hall last Thursday to picket the closure of a school that the city has said was struggling.
More than 40 teachers and parents held signs and shouted, “Save 42” and “Fariña’s gotta go” to bring the public’s attention to the matter. One parent told the Queens Tribune that the protest would be the first of many.
The school was one of 14 closures that the city announced in December, citing low performance on citywide test scores, a failure to improve graduation rates and the lack of college readiness among students, despite capital investments to change their status. The closures would force more than 3,900 students to transfer to a new school at the start of the 2018-’19 academic year, and more than 400 teachers would be out of work.
But according to United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Chapter Chairman John Krattinger, PS 42 was among the city’s most improved schools.
“The [Department of Education] is completely out of line with this decision,” he said. “We have shown progress over the last three years. Of the 20 kindergarten to eighth grade renewal schools, we’re the only one with a ‘good’ rating. The other 19 have ‘fair’ ratings. And you’re going to close us? No, I don’t think so.”
The UFT chairman also pointed out that suspensions during the school year have dropped considerably, with 32 incidents so far this year compared to 174 during the 2013 to 2014 school year, when the renewal school program began. Teacher attendance at PS 42 has also been the highest among renewal schools, at 97.3 percent.
Krattinger said that he and his colleague are scheduled to have a meeting with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz next Wednesday. Other Queens elected officials—including state Senator James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park), Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica)—have all gone on record in support of the efforts of frustrated parents in the hope of preventing the city from going through with the closure.
Krattinger told the Queens Tribune that the community is ready to show out in full force.
“It’s going to be a raucous time,” Krattinger said. “They don’t know what they’re in for.”
The Queens Tribune reached out to Katz’s office for comment on the school closure, but did not receive a response on the matter.