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Queens Parents to Weigh in On Proposed Astoria Gifted Program

ASTORIA — Parents of students in District 30 will meet with schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Monday night to advocate for more seats for gifted children, parents and education officials said. 

The Community Education Council (CEC) for District 30 — which includes schools in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Jackson Heights — met with DOE officials on Friday to hear the city's proposal, said CEC co-president Isaac Carmignani.

That plan includes starting a new middle school program at I.S. 126 in Long Island City similar to the popular G&T middle school Academy now in place at Astoria's P.S. 122, according to a DOE spokesman.

Currently, the gifted Academy at P.S. 122 is the only G&T middle school program in District 30, and it isn't enough to accommodate the number of gifted students coming from the district's four elementary school G&T programs, parents say.

Elementary school students enrolled in the G&T programs at P.S. 122 and Sunnyside's P.S. 150 have historically been guaranteed spots at P.S. 122. This past fall, parents were outraged when the city proposed making those students reapply to the program once they hit fifth grade, instead of having them automatically transferred in.

A DOE spokesman said that under the city's new proposal, students currently enrolled in the G&T program at P.S. 122 and P.S. 150 will be guaranteed a seat at the G&T middle school Academy at 122.

However, incoming G&T kindergartners at P.S. 150 — those who enter the school this September — will need to re-apply to G&T once they hit fifth grade, instead of being placed into the Academy automatically.

But those students required to reapply would have their admissions determined by their math and English language state test scores from the fourth grade, so they wouldn't need to take an additional test, something parents had been concerned about.

"I think we've gotten 90 percent or more of everything that was requested by the community," Carmignani said, saying the CEC was pleased to hear the proposal for the new middle school program at I.S. 126 would mirror that of the highly regarded P.S. 122 Academy.

The proposed I.S. 126 program would accommodate about 60 sixth-graders, starting in the 2013-14 school year.

Carmignani said the CEC would also like the city to guarantee gifted middle school placement for elementary school students currently enrolled in a newer G&T program at P.S. 166, saying parents there were originally promised their students would have a destination.

The DOE is proposing those students be required to reapply once they hit fifth grade.

The CEC District 30 town hall meeting will take place Monday, Jan. 14 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the auditorium in P.S. 234, 30-15 29th St. in Long Island City. For more information and to confirm, call the CEC District 30 office at (718) 391-8380.