P.S. 14’s grades have fallen below the bottom of the district and many are looking to the top for the reasons why.
The city Department of Education recently released the citywide score card for elementary schools and P.S. 14’s scores dropped nearly 50 percent under last year; going from an A to a C. Although this is the first year that the city has used the new method to gauge its schools, many teachers and parents are looking at principal Jason Kovac for an explanation.
“There is a high turnover of teachers and the kids are being affected by it,” said Ben Signore, who is a member of the Parent Teacher Association. “I am not a happy parent.”
Signore said that an increasing number of teachers have been leaving the school because they are intimidated by the principal and do not feel safe at the school. The concerns with the principal have been ongoing for several months, and came to a head last school year when Signore organized a rally to ask for the principal’s resignation.
According to former teacher, Kathy Agona around 20 teachers have left the school due to the principal’s management style.
“When the last principal left we had a A,” she told members of Community Board 10 at the last meeting. “He claims it’s because of the teachers, but those same teachers got us an A. The teachers didn’t change. It’s the administration that changed.”
In the city report, grades three, four and five went from having an average grade of 94.53 in 2009 to having a 56.32, in math and English. The district went from a combined math and English average of 84.66 to44.55.
PTA co-president Diana Colamarino believes the main reason the school’s grades have fallen is because of the tougher grading system the education department instituted this year.
“Every school went down,” she said. “Across the district almost every school went down. A lot of schools got As last year, but now they want higher accountability.”
She said that although some parents and teachers continue to voice concerns about the principal, problems with Kovac have more or less died down at the school. With an enrichment program planned to begin soon at the school, Colamarino said she feels the administration is getting on the right track to turn the school’s grades around.
“I feel the administration is moving forward and trying to do the best it can,” she said. “A handful of teachers are unhappy, but th eothers don’t have any problems. Not everybody’s going to like their boss and any problems shouldn’t affect the kids.”
Rocco Talarico, a member of Community Board 10 and vice president of the Throggs Neck Home Owners Association said he agrees with Signore.
After receiving several complaints from parents and teachers, he said the community board has started looking into the problem to see what can be done to ensure that the school’s grades start rising.
“They came to me complaining about the principal,” he said. “Mr. Kovac makes the teachers feel so uncomfortable they’re getting nervous and leaving. It’s creating a downward spiral.”
He said the local chapter of the United Teacher’s Federation would like to have Kovac trasferred before the next grading period.
The union did not return calls Monday, and principal Kovac declined to comment.