The Sidewalks of White Plains


School District schedules meetings with parents to discuss restoration of WINGS classes for 8th Graders after school next year.

Highlands parents to meet June 5. Eastview Meeting, June 12.

Meetings will explore District decision to eliminate WINGS for 8th graders, and when WINGS could be scheduled in a class day that District claims has no wiggle room.

Phone calls to District prompt meeting.

New state-mandated courses in Technology and Family & Consumer Science bump WINGS from schedule, according to District.

By John F. Bailey


CityLine: May 31, 2001 -- Education House & Your Mailbox

In a response to "a number of phone calls," from parents protesting the elimination of a WINGS class for 8th graders in the White Plains Middle School at Highlands and Eastview, the school district has scheduled two meetings for parents to discuss how the WINGS courses could "be administered outside the regular school day during the eighth grade year."

The news of the meetings come in a letter from Dr. Constance Iervolino, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, sent May 29 to parents and guardians of WINGS students at Highlands and Eastview, the two campuses of the White Plains Middle School. The letter acknowledges that there has been widespread concern on the part of parents after they had received letters saying the WINGS course for 8th grade would be dropped next year. (That letter announcing dropping WINGS for 8-ers, was sent May 15.)

"In phone conversations," Iervolino's letter of May 29 states, "we have tried to explain the impact of additional state requirements on the middle school schedule. We also have tried to reiterate the district's commitment to addressing the needs of its most accomplished students. During several of these phone conversations it was suggested that a meeting might be helpful in explaining more fully the rationale behind the district's decision, as well as providing an opportunity for parents to suggest how we might offer options for the former WINGS students to meet outside the regular school day during their eighth grade year."

Highlands parents are invited to meet with Dr. Iervolino, and it is presumed, Dr. Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools, on Tuesday, June 5 at 7 PM in Room 261. Eastview parents are scheduled to meet with the District officials on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 PM in the LGI Room on the Eastview first floor.

Michelle Schoenfeld, spokesperson for the City School District told WPCNR today that it was the district position that eliminating WINGS would not affect high performing 8th grade students, because accelerated instruction is given to 8th grade students who qualify for it in math and science and other courses. She indicated that the eighth grade students did not need the much-praised enrichment course at that level. WINGS would continue to be available to exceptional students in the 6th and 7th grades.

Schoenfeld could not confirm to WPCNR that the district had not discussed eliminating the WINGS program from 8th grade with the PTA or the School Based Council from the Middle School.

A parent of an eighth grader at Eastview School told WPCNR that she felt her child had benefited greatly from the 8th grade WINGS class, and she was looking forward to her younger child participating in it. She said that the letter from the school district announcing abandonment of the course May 15 was the first time she had heard that the course was being eliminated.

The organizer of a Phone Petition committee soliciting Eastview parents for signatures on a petition to present at the Board of Education Monday said that they had virtually 100% of the parents of the WINGS students supporting the petition Thursday morning.

In Iervolino's original letter of May 15, announcing the decision to move WINGS out of the schedule, she mentions the possibility of finding another way to offer 8th grade WINGS. There was not a decision to completely drop it, as she writes "We will continue to search for ways to enrich the existing curriculum, and will be exploring ways to bring WINGS students together in the 8th grade outside the regular school day."

The May 15 letter to parents explaining the need to move WINGS out of the class schedule, Dr. Iervolino stated:

"We have searched for options, but quite simply, there is absolutely no time in the school day to schedule the extra WINGS class for them, given the new menu of requirements. As you are probably aware, because of State regulations, the schedules for eighth graders have become increasingly challenging and very crowded. Beginning this May and June, for example, virtually all eighth graders are taking New York State exams not only in English Language Arts and Mathematics (as they have for the past two years), but also in Social Studies, Science, Technology, and some in languages other than English as well. Students who are in accelerated courses also take an Earth Science Regents in June, and a new Course A Math Regents in January. In addition to the testing, the New York State Education Department has mandated new course requirements in Technology and Family and Consumer Science as well -- which means additional classes that we had to add to students' programs for September 2001."

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