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Friday, February 4, 2011

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 4

Usually, I enjoy my 25 minute walk to work every morning. Today, I skated, slipped and shimmied my way to the Keeper's House, aka BxNN headquarters on the Williamsbridge Oval in Norwood. On the plus side, I was heartened by a team of folks helping a man pry his car out of an iced-in predicament and enjoyed seeing the sun hitting untouched patches of snow, making the surface look like glazed marshmallow frosting. Now, I'm hungry.

Today's forecast calls for clouds and a high of 34 degrees, with snow possible in the middle of the night and into Saturday morning. Super Bowl Sunday is supposed to be sunny and above freezing!

Story of the Day:
Steve Finkelstein, a Scarsdale-based property owner, has put in a bid to take over the 10 rapidly deteriorating Bronx apartment buildings abandoned by Milbank Real Estate. Finkelstein is offering about $28 million for the debt and the deed to the apartment buildings, but there is still the matter of striking a deal with tenants. Finkelstein says he will put $6.8 million into repairing the dilapidated buildings, which HPD Commissioner Rafael Cestero called the worst he's ever seen. A report commissioned by the City Council late last year said the buildings needed $26 million in repairs. Lawyers for the tenants are skeptical. 

For more on the Milbank mess, click here.

Story of the Day, Part 2:
After pounding the nails in the coffins of 10 city schools on Tuesday, the Panel for Education Policy voted last night to shut down 12 more schools, including the Bronx's John F. Kennedy, Christopher Columbus, Performance Conservatory and Global Enterprise high schools, Frederick Douglas III Academy Middle School and PS 102. Ten of the 22 schools approved for closure are from the Bronx. Vehement protests and criticism have accompanied the panel's votes, with some resulting in arrests, as we reported on Wednesday.

Quick Hits:
Remember this name: Nuha Dolby. Nuha, a 10-year-old fifth grader at the Bronx's PS 24 in Spuyten Duyvil, composed an original piece of music, "Voice of Darkness" (sounds like the next M. Night Shamylan film), that will be performed today at Lincoln Center by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. After hearing it played by the orchestra for the first time earlier in the week, Nuha told the Daily News, "It was, like, amazing. It was fantastic and so cool."

The ice covering the sidewalks outside of the Pelham Bay subway station and bus stop is making trips to and from ridiculously treacherous. City agencies, it appears, are all passing the buck on who should remedy this danger zone.

In that same vein, it appears the Parks Department isn't removing ice near Matthews Park. (I'd like to add that the DEP should be doing something about the ice on Sedgwick Ave. outside of the Jerome Park Reservoir.)

A Westchester developer is moving to the Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx.

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  1. your link: "Remember this name: Nuha Dolby" is directing me to a FoodTown reopening article.

  2. If it appeared the DOE had a real plan to improve the schools, then closing them and reoganizing them might be a good idea. But they couldn't make the high schools work by splitting them into smaller schools and now turning them into charter schools is just a pig in a poke. We need real planning. This is chaos and will only breed more.

  3. Gary,
    Should these schools stay the way they are? Is that what these protests are advocating for? What is you suggestion? Sorry about posting anonymously, but I really don't want to be attacked for who I am instead of what I say (I am teacher at Columbus). I'm very conflicted about the fate of our school. I know we aren't succeeding in our mission for these kids (and frankly a lot of the kids aren't doing their share either -- nor are their parents), but they need a place to go to school and I need a place to work. Columbus is an even more complicated situation because of our tradition of being a haven for the kids tossed around and out of other schools. I apologize if this is too frank for this outlet, but something has to give. There are days when our building and its programming only vaguely resembles as school as most people know it or remember it. If I had to vote as queen of the world, I'd probably vote to keep it open, but just because I don;t see any other options for these kids, nor for the educators working here that have families and bills.

  4. Keeping a failing school open to pay teachers that aren't educating kids and to baby sit kids that have the same distorted values as their parents is just plain dumb. Close the schools and reopen as charters. Make every parent in a failing school sign a contract. The same way schools and teachers are graded on an A to F scale, (and of course the kids are constantly graded), we should grade the parents.

  5. There are a myriad of complex problems in these schools and they're not solved by simply reopening them as charters. Charter schools have not been universal successes. Some yes, some no. Also, the lottery system is going to leave many students out. Do we know what's going to happen to them?

    My point is that the city insisted that by creating small schools within large high schools this would move them in the right direction. But, again, for numerous reasons these plans have failed in so many schools.

    Also the grade measurements that are being used to measure the schools and teachers, as we have seen, can fall prey to many factors - including political agendas, many of which are not really good barometers for the quality or lack of in an educational program.

    So I'm not saying NOT to close the schools, what I'm saying is I'd like to hear a real plan behind what they're doing and I don't hear that. And i think the parents who expressed their displeasure at these meetings would also back off if they heard answers that gained their confidence. But what they're hearing sounds to them like further alienation and lack of real direction.

    One more point, this ongoing campaign against teachers is not helping.

  6. Oh, by the way... to anonymous... What you're saying about Columbus becoming a dumping ground is very true and, unfortunately, not a unique problem to Columbus. This week's Riverdale Press has a sad story about the apparent deterioration at Clinton (my alma mater) because of precisely the same reasons.

    And to my point about the students who don't get into charters... are they going to be "dumped" into another school, thereby turning yet another building into dysfunction?

    Again, what's the plan? So far, I'm not hearing a good one.

  7. Alright! Gax is back. Where have you been old boy? I like that you're back from your posting hiatus. Do you really think the angry parents at these meeting will actual listen? There's no plan that the DOE could put forward that would satisfy them. You can't make everyone happy. I will say I support the other persons suggestion of grading the parents.

  8. There is no plan that would satisfy them? Help me. What is the plan?


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