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29th March

First Published in The New York Sun, March 29, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Adding yet another layer of contention to an increasingly bitter dispute, new plans to apportion seats in programs for gifted and talented students on the Upper West Side of Manhattan could result in tens of thousands of dollars in busing costs in the district and perhaps millions citywide.

Following complaints from some minority parents that the gifted and talented programs in District 3 — the area covering the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, and part of West Harlem — favored white children, the city Department of Education established new admissions procedures.The new rules no longer guarantee that children who qualify for admission to a “self-contained” gifted program, which typically begins in kindergarten, can go to their home-zoned school, even if their school has such a program. Instead, seats are assigned district-wide, based on test results. Assignment preferences for siblings, routinely granted in District 3,also have been eliminated.
The cost of the buses to take children from their home-zoned schools particularly galls some parents, who feel the money would be better spent expanding gifted programs.

This disagreement over busing costs was unfolding as the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, traveled to Albany yesterday to lobby for more state education dollars and was the topic of an exchange last week at a preliminary budget hearing held at the City Council. Council Member Lewis Fidler of Brooklyn, a frequent advocate for gifted and talented programs, confronted Mr. Klein over the costs.

© 2006 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

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