At least one city principal was duped by a fake letter that made it look like the State Education Department wants schools to make sure parents know they can opt out field testing.
After Sandra D’Avilar, the principal of P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights, distributed the letter last week, parents of almost every student who was supposed to take this month's field test responded saying that they did not want their children to take the field test, according to parents at the school. The state is requiring schools to administer the 45-minute test, whose results do not count, so test-maker Pearson can pilot questions for future use.
But after D'Avilar learned that the letter, whose origins are unknown, was a hoax, she told the parents that she cannot honor their requests, parents said.
“We were ready to go and we did all this work to mobilize everybody and it all came crashing down at the 11th hour,” said parent Jane Harnick, who is a member of ParentVoicesNY.
P.S. 9, a Prospect Heights elementary school, faces a sudden budget shortfall.
The city’s annual calculation of schools’ enrollment of poor students has at least one Brooklyn elementary school on the wrong side of an unyielding line.
The city gives extra federal funds to schools where 60 percent of students are eligible for free lunch. P.S. 9, which hosts a gifted program in gentrifying Prospect Heights, has received the funds in the past, but now its enrollment of poor students has dropped — to 59.1 percent.
That means the school won’t get the Title I funds, even though it has virtually the same proportion of eligible students as many other schools that will receive them.
“It's sounds great that we’re coming out of a Title I position but we still don't have enough resources,” said Christine Scalon, secretary of the school’s parent-teacher organization.
Scanlon and other parents are leading a frantic push to raise $160,000 by the end of the school year, the amount they have calculated the school is losing.
The city is hoping that the second time is the charm for its plan to move a charter school into the P.S. 9 building in Brooklyn.
A revised version of a plan outlining how the two schools would share space is one of the items expected to be passed at tomorrow night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting. (A majority of panel members are appointed by the mayor, and so city proposals always pass easily.) State education officials overturned a first draft of the plan last month.
The state's move followed an appeal by parents at P.S. 9 parents who claimed that the city's proposal did not include required information. Parents at the school also challenge the city's plan because it conflicts with their own hopes for the school, which they would like to expand through the eighth grade.
Parents have even nominated one of their own, a P.S. 9 parent who is currently a dean at a Manhattan middle school, to oversee the expansion, which would require P.S. 9 to take up more space inside the building.
The Department of Education is standing by its plan. "We are pleased with P.S. 9’s progress and understand the desire of the school to expand, but in this case, the need of an entire school district strongly outweighs the need of one school," said Marc Sternberg, deputy chancellor for portfolio planning.
Faye Rimalovski, a P.S. 9 parent, said parents are prepared to protest the plan at tomorrow's PEP meeting. "Armed and ready," she said.