Chancellor Addresses Schools’ Future

BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Staff Writer

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña spoke to Borough President Melinda Katz’s Parents Advisory Board Tuesday night to highlight the positive aspects in schools and get input on the negatives.

This was Fariña’s first Advisory Board meeting in the City since she took over as Chancellor in January, Katz said.
Katz opened the meeting with an optimistic vision for the future, despite the amount of work that still needs to be done in schools.

Education Director Monica Gutierrez (left), Borough President Melinda Katz and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (right) spoke to the Parent Advisory Board Tuesday night. Photo by Jordan Gibbons

Education Director Monica Gutierrez (left), Borough President Melinda Katz and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (right) spoke to the Parent Advisory Board Tuesday night. Photo by Jordan Gibbons

“I believe that Queens is changing and I believe it’s changing for the better,” she said. “We had a lot of problems. We got overcrowded. We got lots of trailers.”

Katz said she believes this administration has shown the dedication to make the overcrowded situation work, but it is not going to happen overnight.

Fariña said her main goal in attending the meeting was to listen to what people need to make schools better for everyone. She also pointed out a variety of new programs that have been implemented or will be by September.

In the summer, there will be a rich professional development calendar for training, support and parent coordinators, Fariña said.

There is the Summer Quest program, a free five-week, full-day learning program that provides elementary and middle school students with fun, hands-on enrichment experiences while strengthening their academic skills. Fariña said there will be summer schools where children have the highest need and the Dept. of Education has contacted libraries about being more available for summer reading programs.

Fariña said she also plans to put out a posting to hire social studies teachers in the summer to write the new common core texts to save millions of dollars and produce a better product in house.

In September, Fariña said the DOE will offer more ESL classes and 12-month services for IEP students. The DOE has also set aside $23 million for arts programs.

Fariña said she will take a look at all co-location sites by sending trained people into schools and find out what their issues are.

Fariña said she also plans to start foreign language earlier and she wants to see more dual-language programs. She said she is expanding Career, Technology and Engineering schools too.

“Our CTE schools are college prep schools,” she said. “A lot are under-enrolled.”

Willie Flora Gaines, president of District 28’s Community Education Council, asked Fariña about the difficulty of using 311 to call schools and administrators.

“By the time school starts in September, there will be a printed protocol for who to call, for what,” Fariña said.

Residents should not expect overall change for another six months but she said she wants to “make sure nothing goes through the cracks.”

Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, jgibbons@queenspress.com or @jgibbons2.