Queens Lawmakers On The Move Sept. 26, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Katz Decries State’s Delay In Releasing Standardized Test Scores

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz yesterday criticized the state’s Education Department for its prolonged delay in releasing standardized test scores to elementary and middle school students and their parents.

The department announced in January 2018 that scores on this past spring’s standardized tests for students from grades 3 to 8 would not be released until September, as to allow for a review of the switch from three days of testing to two.

City schools, however, have known test scores since August, but have not been permitted to provide the data to students and their parents. In past years, test scores were released in mid-summer, well before the middle and high school application process.

“Junior high and high school open houses have now begun. For those applying, how can parents possibly be expected to make an informed decision as to which schools they should prioritize on their applications?” said Katz, a parent of pubic school students. “This prolonged embargo imposed upon students from their own test scores has caused all families extreme frustration and uncertainty. It is terribly unfair to shortchange students on the time they have to apply to their middle and high schools of choice, especially when the scores are available now and the application process is already underway.”

The New York City high school application process is currently open; the middle school application process opens in October.

Vallone’s Legislative Package On School Emergency Task Force Gets Hearing

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba, Whitestone) last week saw the the council’s Committees on Public Safety and Education hold a joint hearing on the legislative package he is proposing that will create a School Emergency Preparedness Task Force to take a top to bottom look at the current state and various aspects of safety at every school, and make recommendations for improvements. 

“In light of the ongoing and recent school tragedies around our country, and the indisputable fact that NYC will forever have to be more prepared than any other municipality, now is the time to take a top to bottom look at our school emergency preparedness. There can be no debate, the safety of our children must be our top priority,” he said at the start of the hearing.

The Department of Education (DOE) and New York Police Department (NYPD) both testified favorably with regard to the legislation. “We support the goals of the proposed legislation,” said LaShawn Robinson, Deputy Chancellor for School Climate and Wellness at DOE. “We share the Council’s commitment to ensure that our children are safe at school and we commend the Council for its leadership on this issue.” 

As further testimony from the DOE and NYPD focused mainly on their ongoing school safety efforts and protocols, Vallone highlighted the need for this task force’s oversight in making improvements. He pointed to the lack of surveillance systems in nearly one-third of all public schools, and the disparity between additional security resources, such as safety agents, intercoms and other communication technologies, that many schools face.  

“I heard a lot [at the hearing] about what we are already doing for school safety, but not a lot about what more we could do, or how to do it better. I have an issue with that,” said Vallone. “When we are asked if everything has been done at a child’s school to make them as safe as possible, we better be sure that the answer is yes.”

The Public Safety and Education Committees will vote on the package before coming before the full City Council for a vote. 

Koo Discusses His Legislation Prohibiting Sidewalk Obstructions In Flushing

City Council Member Peter Koo

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill) today will join with local Flushing residents to discuss his legislation to prohibit sidewalk obstructions and street vending in certain areas of downtown Flushing.

Koo has long been a proponent of keeping parts of the crowded Flushing streets in the area free from the obstructions for safety and sanitation reasons as well as for a better flow of pedestrians and traffic safety.

The discussion is slated for 6 p.m., today, Sept. 26 in the Sanford Towers Condominium lobby, 133-47 Sanford Avenue, Flushing.

City Kicks Off M/WBE Push In Queens

City officials today will kick-off the first-ever Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Borough Forum series in Queens.

The forum will connect over 100 M/WBEs with active contracting opportunities from 20 city agencies. The series will also provide an opportunity for non-certified businesses to learn how to do business with the City.

Translation services will be provided in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Taiwanese and Spanish at the event.

The forum is slated for between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., today, Sept. 26 at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, 135-20 39th Avenue in Flushing.