ASTORIA — After weeks of rallies and protests, parents in Queens District 30 have gained the ear of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott about controversial proposed cuts to the gifted and talented program.
The group, outraged by the city's plan to cut the popular program at Astoria's P.S. 122 and expand the school's general education classes, confronted Walcott at a Panel for Education Policy meeting in Brooklyn Wednesday night, where they say the chancellor agreed to meet with them to discuss the changes.
"We're really proud of what we've accomplished, and thrilled that the Chancellor listened and heard us," Deborah Alexander in an e-mail to DNAinfo.com. Her son is set to attend the program when he gets into middle school.
"A united community can really make change," she said.
The coalition of parents from several schools in District 30 have been holding rallies and speaking out at community meetings against the DOE's plans for the last several weeks.
The DOE wants to extend PS 122's general education classes — which end after fifth grade — to the eighth grade, and also cut its high-ranking gifted and talented middle school program, the Academy. The changes would begin with next year's incoming kindergarten class and go into effect in 2019.
Parents argue The Academy cuts will dismantle the prestigious program — a source of pride for in the district — and that expanding the general education classes by three grades at P.S. 122 will overcrowd the school.
The DOE has said the change is to comply with a city regulation that requires all K-8 schools allow every student the opportunity to remain enrolled there through middle school.
DOE spokesman Devon Puglia confirmed that a meeting with between parents and Walcott is being planned, though no date has been set.
“Chancellor Walcott and his team are very responsive and listen closely to feedback from families," Puglia said in a statement.
"We look forward to meeting with this community once again and articulating our rationale for this plan: equity and fairness for all students."