2014-2015 NYC School Calendar
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Inside Schools

When public school falls short for special needs kids - Read Full Article

When public school falls short for special needs kids

I am the proud parent of a bright, creative, and unique daughter with learning disabilities. Like many children with high-incidence disabilities, my daughter outperforms in certain academic areas and underperforms in others. From kindergarten until 3rd grade, she relied on these skills and managed in a general education classroom with some extra services. She had caring, committed teachers, well versed in different learning styles. 

By the second week of 3rd grade, however, it became clear that she would have problems. The rapid implementation of Common Core Standards combined with an unsympathetic classroom teacher made her deteriorate—academically, emotionally and socially. The principal told me that an integrated co-teaching (ICT) class—with two teachers, one a special ed expert—did not exist for her grade. I tried to switch to a nearby public school with more services, but because of 2011’s special ed reform, I was told she now had to be served by her zoned school, and they were giving her all that they could. 

Meanwhile, my sweet, friendly daughter developed tics like humming and rocking. Invitations to play dates and birthday parties stopped. Out of desperation, I searched for alternatives and eventually garnered a placement at a private special education school for bright students with disabilities, paid for by the Department of Education. My daughter has become her ebullient and curious self again. 

If your child with a learning disability is struggling in school, there are other options. Through persistence, research, and exhaustive communication with anyone who could possibly help me, I found my daughter a placement at a state-supported private special education school. It took months of planning and hours of due diligence to navigate the system. Here is a step-by-step guide from a mom who has been there.

1. Get a diagnosis from an outside evaluator 

The DOE conducts evaluations and will suggest treatment plans to improve a set of symptoms, but they stop short of giving clinical diagnoses. Having a diagnosis can make a big difference so parents need to go to an outside evaluator. Sometimes insurance or Medicaid covers this, but if not, these evaluations can cost thousands of dollars. For those without insurance coverage, St. John's Center for Psychological and Educational Testing offers comprehensive testing on a sliding fee scale, but expect to pay at least $500. In certain cases, the DOE will cover the expense. Results can take months to receive, so plan ahead. Once you get the report, you have priceless information: a diagnosis, detailed data about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, a recommended treatment plan, and evidence-backed leverage in meetings.

2. Contact an education lawyer 

Some attorneys charge for a consultation and some don’t, but their insight has value even if you do not retain one. Nonprofit advocacy groups like Advocates for Children and Resources for Children with Special Needs can also offer free, spot-on advice. A quick internet search of “special education lawyers in New York City” will give you a list of some of the region’s top firms. You can also call some private special education schools and ask for a list of recommended lawyers and advocates.

3. Research and apply to private special education schools 

An acceptance letter from a private special education school greatly increases the chances that the DOE will approve your request. The city directly pays its approved state-supported school tuitions, but many parents have to sue the city annually for independent school reimbursement. Even for approved state-supported schools, however, parents often have to pay one month’s tuition (my daughter’s deposit was $3,300) to hold their child’s spot. If the placement is approved, the money will be reimbursed, but it might take several months. Visit the State education website for a list of private special education schools in the area. 

Placements are competitive, and many schools now actively screen out students with “emotional disturbances.” Include as supplements to your application letters from adults (counselors, teachers, coaches, pediatricians) that testify to your child’s emotional health. Applications are due in the fall for the following year’s admissions.

4. Meet with your individual education plan (IEP) team 

A school-age child’s IEP team usually consists of a district representative, the child’s special education teacher or service provider, the general education teacher and sometimes the school social worker or psychologist. If you want a different school setting for your child, ask the IEP team to “defer to CBST (Central-Based Support Team).” CBST will review your child’s file and decide whether the city will pay for a private school placement. If they deny the request, then you can ask for a hearing. Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to streamline this process for families. 

Although the process is daunting, finding the right educational fit for your exceptional child makes all the effort worthwhile. We have a dinner time tradition in my family where we each share our favorite part of the day. Last year, my daughter’s favorite part of the day was almost always “coming home from school.” Her refrain this year? “My favorite part of the day was school.” Nothing makes me happier than seeing my daughter finally learning—and loving it.

HS Hustle: Navigating college search, sans guidance counselors - Read Full Article

HS Hustle: Navigating college search, sans guidance counselors

It's the thick of college application season, and your child is diligently churning out common application essays while simultaneously studying for four or five advanced placement exams and researching scholarships, right?

Well, maybe not.

In households of high school seniors across New York City right now, (including my own) there's likely a good deal of procrastination—along with frustration and anxiety about the endless array of essays and electronic forms to fill out. Tasks include the dreaded and still over-complicated federal FAFSA, a federal form with 108 questions and 72 pages of instructions that determine financial aid—all guaranteed to take weeks off your life. (Here's a tip, though: For help, check out this how-to guide from the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.)

Way too often, the city's public high schools don't have nearly enough guidance counselors to provide one-on-one advice and instruction. In fact, when asked about the ratio of students to counselors at a recent City Council hearing, the Department of Education said they didn't know. Nationally, the ratio of counselors to students at public high schools is just one to 285: with only one college counselor for every 338 students, a recent Hechinger Report story found

That's why when I was asked to give a presentation about college admissions at my son's Manhattan high school last week, I came up with a handy list of do's and don'ts for parents—some based on many years of covering education, others based on trial and error in my household and the homes of my siblings, relatives and friends.

They might include the kinds of tips guidance counselors could provide, if only there were enough of them.

At the top of my list is a simple tool called Tuition Tracker, showing what students really pay for college—based on income—instead of what the so-called sticker price you can read on any website says. For example, the cost of attending Pennsylvania State University runs about $30,000 a year for in-state students. At Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia, it's nearly twice that, yet Swarthmore ends up being less expensive for most students, according to one of our stories that used Tuition Tracker. How could that be? The answer is that Swarthmore is among the private liberal arts schools offering hefty discounts, bringing down the average cost to even less than taxpayer-subsidized Penn State's.

Many low-income families are so intimidated by prices and so unaware they may qualify for substantial aid they don't even bother to apply, a study by researchers at Stanford and Harvard found last year. Without guidance counselors and financial aid experts encouraging them to apply, they continue to be unaware.

I hate to think that our overly stressful and complex college admissions process drives away kids who truly deserve great opportunities.

It is simply unrealistic to think most busy high schoolers can navigate admissions and financial aid on their own. Parents have to strike a balance between being overinvolved and uninvolved—the stakes are too high.

Here are my top ten "don'ts" for parents, particularly of high school seniors. Parents, please add your own!

1. Do not begin every sentence with the phrase: ''Did you do...?''

2. Do not double-team your child, even if you are lucky enough to have two parents who are involved. Designate one parent to handle financial aid while the second helps keep track of applications.

3. Do not talk about your child's SAT or PSAT or ACT scores except in private! It's just not good form to talk about test scores in front of other kids and parents or compare scores with friends and siblings. Great scores don't necessarily guarantee top choice admissions, bad or mediocre ones don't necessarily doom them.

4. Do not constantly yell, nag, compare, beg, punish and put your child down when you get anxious about the ordeal. Instead, pick one admissions task at a time to tackle with them together.

5. Do not think of college admissions decisions as a reflection or referendum on your parenting skills or how you raised your child.

6. Do not pin all your hopes on one or two colleges that felt right to you. You aren't the one going.

7. Do not anticipate much personal attention, guidance and hand-holding from school counselors if you attend a large public high school. Their caseload is too big and they simply do not have the time.

8. Do not write any of your child's essays. It will be obvious the voice is yours.

9. Do not talk about nothing but college admission at home. If all goes well, it could be the last year your child will be living with you. Change the subject every now and then; watch a game or a funny movie.

10. Do not miss important deadlines. Figure out a way to stay on target—via an email relationship with your child, shared calendars, a chalkboard or whiteboard.

11. Do not forget to check in advance of applying to get a sense of how much aid you might reasonably expect. 

Finally, if you have figured out what works well—pass it on!

It's time to sign up for G&T testing. Our advice: Don't stress it - Read Full Article

It's time to sign up for G&T testing. Our advice: Don't stress it

Ahh, it’s that time of year again. The pumpkins are out, and sunscreen and sandals have given way to light jackets and boots. There’s no denying it: gifted and talented testing is upon us.

Two years ago, I documented my elder son’s attempt to penetrate the exciting, if somewhat notorious world of gifted and talented testing in New York City. Several Pearson debacles and rejection letters later, our son ended up happy and thriving at a wonderful neighborhood school. And although the G&T testing experience taught me a great deal and yielded a few laughs, I secretly vowed then that unless my youngest son was clearly a savant—say, reciting Chaucer and analyzing Bayesian statistics—I’d spare him the hours seated with strangers asking him weird questions.

My husband disagrees. In his opinion, “Delta Force”—my sweet little powerhouse of a 4-year-old—gets the shaft in everything. He wears his brother's old shoes and gets less attention, so how dare we deny him this opportunity. "And besides," he explained, "I want to know how smart he is." 

Just like last time, I am torn on the “genius” question and whether labeling a 4-year-old does more harm or good. I’m troubled by the racial and economic disparities still rampant in G&T, and of course I have my personal doubts. Delta Force has a sharp and practical mind, but is he gifted? Sure, he can count to 300 (with a bit of help) and has got quite a knack for tangrams, but the other night when I tried to embark on a deep conversation about the Yom Kippur holiday, he just nodded thoughtfully and said, “Mommy? Sometimes I like to suck on my feet.”

So it remains to be seen whether our family joins the thousands of others vying for spots at the city’s coveted gifted and talented programs this year. But like any fiercely loving mother I will remain true to my conviction that Delta Force is a genius in his own way, and no test result will change my mind.

My only piece of advice to others tackling the G&T is don’t stress too much, and remember that genius comes in many shapes and sizes. What you want from a school is the right fit for your child, and if G&T offers you more choices, go for it and don’t look back.

Here is what you need to know this year:

1. Families interested in kindergarten through 3rd-grade G&T placements for 2015 may submit a Request for Testing (RFT) form between Oct. 8 and Nov. 7, 2014. Forms can be submitted online, or in person at your child’s current public school or at an enrollment office

2. The sooner you register the better your chances are for getting a desirable date, time and location. (If your child is also applying to Hunter College Elementary School, which has a separate application, remember to take Hunter's second round evaluation dates into consideration when selecting your DOE test date.) Tests will be administered on weekends at selected school sites between Jan. 8 and Feb. 6, 2015.

3. The Department of Education uses two assessments to determine G&T eligibility: The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT-2) and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT-8). The NNAT-2 gauges a child’s ability to solve problems and understanding of relationships through pattern completion, analogies, serial reasoning and spatial visualization. The OLSAT-8 measures abstract thinking and reasoning skills. The nonverbal and verbal scores are weighted equally at 50 percent in the calculation of a student’s overall percentile rank.

4. Alternate language assessments are available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. Switching back and forth between languages during the test is not allowed. The DOE asks parents to carefully consider which language their child is most comfortable using.

5. Scores in the 90th percentile or above qualify your child for a district G&T program, although seats are not guaranteed. Please note that children are compared to others whose birthdays are within three months of theirs. If your child is eligible, you will receive an application in early April due back by April 23, 2015.

6. Scores in the 97th percentile or above qualify your child for a citywide program. Truthfully, your child will need to score in 99th percentile to be offered a citywide slot (or sometimes even a highly desirable district placement), and even then it’s no sure thing. Even with a dip in qualifying students last year, there were still three times as many top-scorers as there were seats available.

For more information check out the G&T Handbook online and attend one of five evening information sessions (one in each borough), beginning Oct. 14 in Manhattan.

Want to see which schools offer programs this year? See the list (PDF). Note: it changes from year to year based on space and demand for a program.

To see how children in each district fared on the 2014 assessments, the DOE provides a link here.

Good luck!

School Book

Pencils? Check. Paper Towels? Check. Back to School Shopping in Full Swing - Read Full Article

With the school year about to begin, music teacher Rachel Smith went shopping. On her list: a grade book; punch-out letters; boarders; magnets, stickers and letters for her classroom walls.

This year, she's going with a theme of owls, monkeys and little monsters. “I have to keep updated”, she said.

Smith didn't say exactly how much she spent at Carol School Supply Store in Fresh Meadows, Queens, but she considered the outlay part of the job.

“Oh gosh, a couple  of hundred dollars, probably" she said. "But you know, it's a labor of love, so I buy what I need for the kids.”

New York City school teachers are reimbursed $78 for school supplies through a program called "Teacher’s Choice." The allowance used to be substantially higher, said Jason Pick, co-owner of the supply store.

“They’ve actually gone down over the years. They went up a little bit this year but not where they were,” he said.

Pick said teachers should get more money for supplies not just because he wanted to sell the “fluff’n puff”, as he referred to some of the items in his store, but because they can improve teacher instruction.  

“You know, teachers put a lot of time and effort into what they do. A little more money going their way would be very beneficial – not only for them, but for what they can produce in the classroom,“ he said.

The financial pressure of back-to-school shopping weighs heavily on parents, too. Carol Pick, the store's co-owner, said parents had ever-growing lists of items they must bring to school.

“A lot of parents complain about how expensive it is to get a child ready for back to school”, she said. “They have to buy notebooks, crayons, markers, whiteboard, tissue, storage bags, paper towels, copy paper, glue.”

It’s an endless list and for some families it causes real financial strain, yet another reason why Smith said she filled her basket to the brim. 

P.S. 242 in Harlem

 Gains Exclusive International Baccalaureate Status

Click here for the full story


Amendments to Chancellor’s Regulation – October 29, 2014 PEP Vote

1.      Amendment to Chancellor’s Regulation A-420 – Corporal Punishment

2.      Amendment to Chancellor’s Regulation A-421 – Verbal Abuse

3.      Amendment to Chancellor’s Regulation D-140 – Process for the Nomination and Selection of Members of the Community Education Councils Including Filling Vacancies


 October 29, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

Murry Bergtraum High School

411 Pearl Street

New York, NY 10038



Proposals for Significant Changes in School Utilization
November 25, 2014
Panel for Educational Policy Meeting

High School of Fashion Industries
225 West 24 Street, New  York, NY 10011


Parents Rip Success Academy
for Not Sharing Locations of Proposed Charters



Parents, administrators weigh in
on potential Manhattan charter openings



Individual School’s Score
 for 2014 ELA and Math State Test Results

 Click here

District 3 schools: Pages 321-329

New York State Department of Education
 Releases 2014 State Test Scores

Click here for more information


New Blue Book Reflects Improvements Recommended by City Agencies, Public and Charter Schools, Advocacy Organizations, and Community Councils

Families, educators and interested community members can access the new Blue Book here.


Parent-Teacher Conferences  
Below please find the dates for 4 parent teacher conferences.   













Elementary School

Sep 16

Nov 12

Nov 13

Mar 18

Mar 19

May 13

Middle School

Sep 18

Nov 19

Nov 20

Mar 11

Mar 12

May 6

High School

Sep 17

Nov 5

Nov 7

Mar 26

Mar 27

May 7

D75 School Programs


Nov 17

Nov 18

Mar 2

Mar 3


*Multi-session schools and District 75 School Programs are exempt from these additional conferences. Schools will notify families accordingly if they are holding these events at their site.

June Clerical Shortened Days
citywide June Clerical Shortened Days for elementary and intermediate/junior high schools as well as D75 schools.

  • Tuesday, June 9, 2015
  • Monday, June 15, 2015

School Admissions News

G&T Request for Testing Period:
This year, families can submit a Request For Testing (RFT)
 for G&T admissions beginning Wednesday, October 8.   

Families of students in pre-K through second grade who are interested in taking the G&T assessment should fill out a RFT form online, at a public school, or at CSD3 Enrollment Office -  388 West 125 Street, 7th Floor by Friday, November 7.  

For updated information and resources, including FAQs, timelines, guidebooks and announcements - visit the NYCDOE G&T website at http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/GiftedandTalented/default.htm For questions, email es_enrollment@schools.nyc.gov.

High School Directories Notice

Students applying to a NYC public high school for the 2015-2016 school year can now access the 2014-2015 High School Directory online in nine languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.

All non-native English speakers who will participate in the admissions process are encouraged to review the directories.  Visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/Resources/default.htm for complete information and the English directory. Questions regarding the 2014-2015 High School Directory may be directed to the High School Admissions Team at HS_Enrollment@schools.nyc.gov

Community Events

The fall NLI series is now accepting registrations. From pointers on neighborhood organizing to suggestions on how to navigate city government or attract local press, their workshops are designed with resident-led groups in mind; each session draws from the ideas and experiences that you bring. Complete four workshops (including 'Basics of Community Organizing') and receive a Neighborhood Leadership Institute certificate of achievement.

Workshops take place in downtown Manhattan. For more info and to RSVP, contact Arif at aullah@citizensnyc.org or 212-822-9580.   

Saturday, September 20
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Bring your neighbors together on issues that matter to you.
Saturday, September 27
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Build and maintain an effective neighborhood association or community group. 
Saturday, October 18
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Increase public support for your group by framing your message and alerting local media. 
Saturday, October 25
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Learn how city government functions and how to have your community issues addressed.
Saturday, November 15
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Support your group's work with community fundraising efforts.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, October 29
SLT Chairperson Professional Development Session
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Joan of Arc Complex
154 W. 93 St.
Room TBD
Tuesday, November 4
Student Non-Attendance Day
Election Day

Chancellor's Conference Day

Students not in attendance

Wednesday, November 5
High School
High School Parent Teacher Conferences
Business Meeting
6:30 PM
Joan of Arc Complex
154 W. 93rd St.
Room 204
Friday, November 7
High School
High School Parent Teacher Conferences

CEC3 News

June 11, 2014
District 3 Town Hall with Chancellor Carmen Fariña 
& Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm

CEC3 Calendar of Meetings for the 2014-2015 School Year
2014-2015 CEC3 Meeting Calendar

A New District 3 6-12 School Opening in Fall of 2015
Presentation from 9/10/14 CEC3 Calendar Meeting

To join the CEC3 Email List, 

please send your name and email address to


CEC3 2013-2014 Strategic Plan Document

Adopted at January Joint CSD3 Presidents' Council/CEC3 Calendar Meeting

CEC3 Vacancy! 
Applications are now being accepted to fill the vacant ELL seat on the District 3 Community Education Council

All applicants must be a parent/guardian of  an ELL student currently attending a District 3 elementary and middle school

Contact the CEC3 Office for more information at cec3@schools.nyc.gov or (212) 678-2782