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New York

Ten schools to return home on Tuesday as recovery proceeds

After another day with abysmal attendance figures at dozens of schools relocated because of Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Education has its sights set on next week. "I think Tuesday [will be] the best barometer of how well we're doing," Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Thursday night as he fielded questions about the department's steady but logistically complicated progress in getting students in storm-battered areas back in school. More than 40 schools will still be housed in temporary relocations when classes resume after the Veteran's Day holiday — the seventh day the city's schools will have been closed since Sandy struck Oct. 28. But for the first time, the department will be able to provide bus service to elementary and middle school students in all of them, and new generators mean that some schools will reopen in their own buildings. The seven schools that received generators are all on the Rockaway Peninsula, which is served by a power company that has drawn fire for not restoring power quickly enough. Another Rockaways school that is reopening did have its power restored this week, but the Long Island Power Authority now says some customers on the peninsula will not see their power come back on until after Thanksgiving, or more than two weeks from now. Attendance in relocated schools has been very low — 36.9 percent today, up from 30 percent on Thursday — and schools on the Rockaway peninsula have had the fewest students show up, with attendance remaining around 4 percent at some schools today.
New York

Teachers find speedy post-Sandy support on DonorsChoose

The basement at P.S. 15 in Red Hook was flooded with between five and seven feet of water during Hurricane Sandy, staff said. Teachers across the city and region are turning to DonorsChoose, a website that allows educators to solicit funds for small-scale projects, to get their classrooms righted after Hurricane Sandy. The site set up a dedicated page featuring only projects from schools affected by the powerful storm and so far, according to DonorsChoose's current statistics, individual donors have given more than $50,000 to projects that will reach more than 19,000 students. The quick pace of donations means that many projects are completed very soon after they are posted, giving schools an immediate boost at a time when goodwill is running high but coordination to deliver donated supplies to where they are most needed is only now being established. In one remarkable example, a science teacher at Brooklyn International High School raised $1,080 from a single donor after explaining how his students' science materials were destroyed when the school building lost power. "Unfortunately, our school cannot afford to replace the several thousands of dollars in chemicals and restriction enzymes we lost due to Sandy," he wrote. Other city teachers have gotten money to buy toys for students at P.S. 15 in Red Hook, which was flooded and has been relocated; give supplies to colleagues at a newly co-located school; replace graphing calculators for students at Staten Island's New Dorp High School. Some projects to help city schools still need funding.
New York

Attendance is low as storm-battered schools reopen in new sites

Channel View School for Research's Craig Dorsi greets students who arrived at their host school this morning. Thursday will mark a milestone in New York City's recovery from Hurricane Sandy: All public schools will be open for the first time, Chancellor Dennis Walcott confirmed this afternoon. But if today's attendance figures are any guide, students from the most storm-battered areas likely won't be there. Today, 43 schools in heavily damaged buildings opened for the first time in new sites, some many miles away. Another 25 of the city's 1,750 schools remained closed because they had no power or because the city had been using them as shelters. But for the vast majority of schools, today approximated a regular school day. Citywide, student attendance today at schools that submitted attendance reports was 87 percent, according to the Department of Education, and 95 percent of teachers reported for duty. Mayor Bloomberg called the attendance rates "encouragingly high" during a news conference this afternoon. But at most, 43 percent of students in relocated schools made it to their new sites as the city struggled to roll out new bus routes for tens of thousands of students. Some relocated schools drew far more students than others. Two selective schools in Lower Manhattan, Bard High School Early College and Millennium High School, each posted attendance rates over 95 percent in their first day in temporary sites. Several schools based in storm-battered Far Rockaway, on the other hand, had less than 10 percent of students show up today.
New York

Far Rockaway charter school takes its fight 23 miles to Tweed