Despite shutting down most city schools for at least a week because of the storm, the Department of Education is moving ahead with various tests and meetings scheduled this month and next.
Some parent leaders have expressed concerns about whether affected communities should be given more time to regroup before any decisions are made on siting new schools in their neighborhoods. And high school students affected by Sandy, in particular, may feel more pressure as they study for critical exams and apply to colleges while also catching up on missed coursework.
Here are some answers to common questions:
Is the Parent Academy’s first session still taking place on Saturday, Nov. 10?
Yes. The new academy will hold its first workshops at Long Island University in Brooklyn from 9 a.m.to 1:30 p.m. The city has added a workshop on how to help children feel secure after Hurricane Sandy, and families can get guidance on how to apply for FEMA reimbursements. The regularly scheduled topics include how to prepare for upcoming parent-teacher conferences and how to foster communication between parents and teachers.
Insideschools.org reports that some parents have questioned the wisdom of holding the workshops this weekend while so many families are still coping with damaged homes and relocating after the storm.
Are parent-teacher conferences still scheduled for next week?
Yes, although District 75 parent-teacher conferences have been postponed. Elementary school conferences are scheduled for the evenings of Nov. 13 and 14, and middle school meetings on the evenings of Nov. 19 and 20. The D.O.E. says principals may choose to adjust the November parent-teacher conference dates and hold conferences any time before the end of the month. If they choose to adjust the schedule for their school’s conferences, they will need to ensure that they communicate new dates to families and coordinate with their network’s student safety and transportation points.
When is the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT)?
The SHSAT scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3 has been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17. The SHSAT exam scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 28 has been rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18. The D.O.E. says accommodations will be made for all students with conflicts.
Some parents were upset when the chancellor postponed the last October exam just as the storm was approaching. They argued that some middle schools had temporarily reduced the amount of homework in order to give their students more time to study. But after missing a lot of school because of the storm, students will now have to catch up on their regular work while continuing to prep for the exams and apply to high schools. Rochelle Hestnas, whose 13-year-old son attends M.S. 54 in Manhattan and is preparing for the test, said, “He’s struggling to balance all of these things.” Now that the formal test-prep has concluded, she said, families are hiring tutors and students are taking additional practice tests.
When are the SAT’s?
Exams scheduled for Nov. 3rd will be held Nov. 17 and 18. Here’s test-prep advice from one education site.
When will High School Progress Reports be released?
These A-F school report cards were supposed to be released at the end of October. The D.O.E. said they will now be released later this month. No date has been given yet.
Is the city moving ahead with plans to open new schools and to co-locate others in the same buildings for next fall?
Under state law, public hearings must be held before the Panel for Educational Policy votes to open or close a school. The P.E.P. met as scheduled on Thursday, Nov. 8. But it postponed voting on 10 proposals until its next meeting on Dec. 20. Some of the proposals include opening new charter schools run by the Success network in buildings used by other schools. These co-locations are always controversial and bring out supporters and opponents.
The decision to postpone these proposals until next month was hotly debated, according to GothamSchools.org.
The panel is controlled by mayoral appointees who always side with the Bloomberg administration. But Kelvin Diamond, the Brooklyn borough president’s representative to the P.E.P., tried to postpone the vote on co-locations until January. He told Schoolbook, “We need parents to have more time to recover from both Hurricane Sandy and the last snowstorm we just had.”
Diamond said he was sympathetic to Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s argument that the D.O.E. needs to get on with the business of running schools. But he said he was worried that parents who were affected by the storm would be too busy dealing with their own household problems to attend public hearings. He noted that many parents are still just learning about where their schools have been re-located and about whether their children will get busing. Diamond’s proposal was rejected by the panel.
Has the Gifted and Talented Application deadline been changed?
Yes. The deadline to submit a request for testing is now Nov. 16. In addition, The G&T Information Session originally scheduled for Nov. 7 in Queens has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Francis Lewis High School.
Will the school year be extended because of days lost due to the storm?
Unknown. Department of Education spokeswoman Erin Hughes said, “We think it is important to make up the instructional time so we are reaching out to our union partners to discuss where these days can be made up.”
How do I know if I can get a bus for my child to a relocated school?
Starting Tuesday, Nov. 13, the D.O.E. says it will be able to provide shuttle buses for all K-8 students who have been relocated. The website is currently being updated with this information. Parents can check the website for updates on the status of their school. The D.O.E. had originally been able to provide buses for just about half the students at relocated schools because it couldn’t get enough buses.