P.S. 166 Students Win Fight for Gifted Middle School Seats in Queens

By Jeanmarie Evelly on February 18, 2013 7:15am 

LONG ISLAND CITY — Students enrolled in the gifted and talented program at P.S. 166 in Queens will be guaranteed gifted middle school seats within the district, according to the Department of Education, an assurance parents at that school have been fighting for for the last few months.

Current G&T kids at P.S. 166 will automatically transfer to a new gifted middle school program the city is launching this fall at I.S. 126 in Long Island City, a DOE spokesman confirmed.

P.S. 166 parents were outraged that theirs was the only G&T program in the district without an automatic middle school transfer. Many worried their children would be left without a seat if they were forced to re-apply to the program in fifth grade, since gifted middle school seats in District 30 are in short supply.

The new program at I.S. 126 will accommodate about 60 sixth-graders starting in the 2013-14 school year, according to the DOE.

“We’ve worked enormously hard to deliver more G&T seats for families in this district," DOE spokesman Devon Puglia said in an emailed statement. "By listening to and engaging with this community, and by working closely with the Community Education Council, we’re proud to not only create a new program at 126, but to offer equitable access for current 166 G&T students to middle school programs.”

Current students at the two other district G&T schools, P.S. 122 in Astoria and P.S. 150 in Sunnyside, have been promised spots at a popular and highly coveted existing G&T middle school Academy at P.S. 122.

The new program at I.S. 126 will be modeled after the Academy at 122, according to the DOE.

Queens Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, an I.S. 126 graduate herself, praised the new development in a statement.

“We are extremely lucky to have so many talented students in our community; I am proud that we have ensured that each of them will receive a challenging and rigorous education that will meet their needs," she said.

Though currently enrolled gifted students in District 30 are guaranteed middle school seats, all future students — beginning with the incoming 2013 kindergarten class — will have to re-apply once they hit middle school, with admissions based on their state test scores, according to the DOE.

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