November 5, 2012
Elected officials and teachers union president Michael Mulgrew this afternoon expressed caution for the city’s ambitious plan to re-locate 40,000 students from dozens of storm-battered schools.
But no matter how daunting the project facing the city is, they said it should — and could — work, with their help.
“We will find ways, working together, to make it work,” Speaker Christine Quinn said. “There will be bumps in the road.”
“Shifting thousands of students to different schools two months into a school year is a massive undertaking,” Mulgrew said. “It’s never been done before.”
“It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to work,” he added.
Quinn and Mulgrew toured two schools scheduled to take in students on Wednesday for what could be an extended period of time. They visited New Dorp High School, which will get a thousand students from Staten Island’s I.S. 2 students, and Gravesend’s P.S. 212, set to take in about 600 students from P.S. 188.
Neither said they disagreed with any of the planning decisions so far made by the Bloomberg Administration. But Quinn said she had concerns about the Department of Education’s ability to execute on those plans.
“We have to make sure we work with DOE to make sure they’re as organized and thought everything through,” Quinn said.
Both raised a number of issues that they said could fall through the cracks if the city didn’t carefully monitor each step of its plan. Quinn said many of the schools may have lost all of their course material. Host schools served different ages and wouldn’t be able to easily accomodate for the instructional loss. She also said one concern host principals had was in sharing speech and occupational therapists for students who required supplemental services.
Mulgrew said that schools still had to grapple with the physical and emotional trauma that students had incurred during the storm and its aftermath.
“We need backpacks. They need notebooks,” Mulgrew said. “Some of their houses were destroyed. They don’t have these things anymore.”