Assemblywoman Cook
Vivian E. Cook
Winter 2007

Dear Constituents:

I am delighted to share that NYC Schools will receive $258 million in New York State funding under the “Contract for Excellence” programs designated in the New York State 2007-08 Budget. The program is designed to help close the achievement gap to increase student performance. For many years I have been working with Community School Districts 27, 28, and 29 to address the educational needs of the district. Over the years I have met with countless teachers, administrators, city officials, children, and families personally sharing their concerns of what is needed in their schools. I listened and heard you talk about the need to reduce class size, eliminate classes in closets, improve gymnasiums, cafeteria spaces, and supply more books, class materials, paper and much more. We can all be proud that as a result of our combined efforts a new school building will be built for PS 48 in Jamaica at 155-02 108th Avenue. This is great news for our children. It is important to realize that this did not happen overnight; it took years to accomplish this goal and I am proud that together we have been successful. The New York State Assembly played a key role in securing the vital funding needed in its EXCEL - Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning, which provided $1.8 billion in the 2006-07 State Budget for capital construction on top of building aid to modernize our schools, and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity that provided $714 million more than last year for school construction set aside to address the educational needs of our children. This is a magnificent achievement and one we can all be proud of.

In this news report I have provided further information on the schools that will receive funding as a part of the Contract for Excellence, carbon monoxide alarms, the reopening of South Jamaica Library, and a portion of the newsletter is dedicated to our seniors who may be eligible for HeartShare and HEAP, home energy assistance grants. Please take a moment to read this report as I am sure you will find it worthwhile.

In closing, as this legislative year comes to an end I would like to take a moment to thank you for taking time to write me, call, or visit my office. As a longtime resident of Southeast Queens. I care about our community and the district I represent. Please know that I will continue to work to address your expressed concerns in regards to health care, affordable housing, the MTA fare, safety issues, senior citizen issues and education. I will also continue to fight to secure funding in the New York State Budget that will benefit the families of Southeast Queens. If I may be of any assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at (718) 322-3975.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.

Vivian E. Cook
Member of Assembly

Assemblymember Cook Helps Secure $24.3 Million in State Funds for Community School Districts 27, 28, and 29 Under the "Contract for Excellence" Programs
photo Assemblymember Cook at her desk in the Assembly Chamber reviews the Session Calendar getting ready to cast her vote on legislation that may be signed into law.
Assemblymember Cook is pleased to announce that local community school districts 27, 28, and 29 received $24.3 million to be dedicated in "Contract for Excellence" programs to help students close the achievement gap. The district commits to use the money to make needed improvements and increase student performance through targeted programs such as class size reduction, students spending more time on academic tasks, teacher and principal quality initiatives, and middle school and high school restructuring.

The problem of overcrowded and underperforming schools is very serious. This year, the Assembly approved a record setting amount - $712 million to improve New York City schools and require the Department of Education to use a significant part of this money to reduce class sizes in all grades.

"This is a great step forward and we will monitor how this goal is being achieved over the next 5 years and how the Department complies with the intent of the funding," Assemblymember Cook said. "The ’Contract for Excellence’ is about accountability. It requires schools to use the money for state-approved programs that improve performance. As the Assembly has argued for years, our schools need more resources coupled with reform, and that’s the direction we’re headed."

This year’s budget marked a significant investment in our education system by finally beginning to address the court ruling in the CFE case. It included a new foundation education formula for predicable, stable and transparent funding - something the Assembly has insisted on for years.

"We need to do more for class size reduction and to meet the educational needs across the city," Assemblymember Cook said. "The ’Contract for Excellence’ program builds on my commitment to education and toward achieving better academic performance for our children. Comparing the average class size in New York City to the rest of the state reveals an overwhelming disparity - a disparity we must end."

The "Contract for Excellence" between the state and school districts means schools receive significant funding, but with the requirement of academic progress, as determined by existing benchmarks, to use proven strategies to improve the standards and success of our schools.

"The Governor has demonstrated a shared commitment to education. Education is key to success, and that’s why the Assembly supports raising the bar in our schools," Assemblymember Cook said "This is just one step toward better schools and helping high-need city schools, improve and excel."

The schools to receive class size reduction funding include:

  • August Martin High School - $90,170
  • P.S. 40 Samuel Huntington - $214,090
  • P.S. 50 Talfourd Lawn Elementary School - $53,367
  • P.S. 140 Edward K Ellington - $45,616
  • P.S. 160 Walter Francis Bishop - $213,876
  • P.S. 161 Arthur Ashe School - $234,077
  • JHS 8 Richard S Grossley - $288,736
  • JHS 72 Catherine & Count Basie - $136,639

Information for Senior Citizens
EPIC: Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage
EPIC is New York State’s prescription plan for seniors. New York State residents aged 65 and older with an income of $35,000 or less if you are single, or $50,000 or less if you are married are eligible for the program. EPIC now works hand-in-hand with Medicare Part D, and EPIC enrollees who are eligible for Medicare Part D must enroll in both programs. EPIC will facilitate enrollment into Medicare Part D and provide assistance with Medicare Part D premiums. Almost all prescription medicines, including insulin and insulin syringes are covered. How does EPIC work?
When you go to the pharmacy show your EPIC card and for each prescription costing:
Up to: You pay:
$15 $3
$15.01 to $35 $7
$35.01 to $55 $15
$55.01 and over $20

For additional information, call the toll-free EPIC hotline at 1-800-332-EPIC.

photo Assemblymember Cook met with Mr. Hugh Campbell, former President of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association to discuss their legislative agenda.
photo Assemblymember Cook was pleased to join Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Governor Elliot Spitzer on her visit to the State Capitol. In photo from left to right: Governor Elliot Spitzer, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer, Assemblymember Margaret Markey and Assemblymember Cook.

Information for Senior Citizens

HeartShare Winter Heating Assistance Programs
HeartShare Human Services of New York in partnership with KeySpan administers the HeartShare Winter Heating Assistance Programs to help assist qualified individuals obtain a grant toward their KeySpan heating bill. You may receive up to $200 depending on the amount of your bill. This grant is available once per year on a first come, first served basis. For a Neighborhood Heating Fund Application you may call NHF at (718) 522-6514 or Assemblymember Cook’s office at (718) 322-3975. You should apply as soon as possible funding is limited.

SCRIE: Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program
This program is available to people age 62 or over in rent-controlled or rent-regulated apartments and Mitchell-Lama public housing. You may be eligible for an exemption from that portion of a rent increase which would cause your total rent to exceed 1/3 of your household income. The income limit can be up to $27,000, depending on where you live. For more information or application contact the NYC Department of Aging by dialing 311.

HEAP: Home Energy Assistance Program
New York State’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps pay heating costs. Eligibility is determined by your annual income and household size. To find out more about HEAP, call your local Office of the Aging or the Senior Citizens Hotline at 1-800-342-9871.

Assemblymember Cook Encourages Seniors to Carry a Medicine List

Assemblymember Cook encourages seniors to keep track of their medication and other health information by completing the form below and carrying it where ever you may go. This prescription medicine list will be a valuable source of information that will make your visit to the doctors less stressful when completing forms and answering questions. Please take a moment to complete the list below and keep it with you.

Click here for printable view.


List Vitamins and Supplements:

List any Allergies:

List any Problems with Medicine:

Medical Conditions:

Doctor Name: Phone Number:

Pharmacy: Phone Number:

Emergency Contact: Phone Number:

Assemblymember Cook Helps Secure Capital Funding for South Jamaica Library and Rochdale Village Community Library

I am pleased to help secure capital funding for the South Jamaica Library for renovations. The Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the Newly Renovated South Jamaica Library took place on December 7, 2007.

South Jamaica Library is the fiftieth branch of Queens Borough Public Library providing invaluable resources and services to the community. I am pleased to report that Queens Borough Library ranks #1 in U.S. Public Library Circulation according to the "Public Library Statistical Report 2007". This represents on a national level how important libraries are to the residents of Queens County and why I will continue to fight to secure state funding for libraries in Southeast Queens.

Rochdale Village has received capital funding and grants to renovate and help support this local community library. I am pleased to meet with the South Jamaica Library and Rochdale Village Library on their annual Queens Library lobby day in Albany. This year the New York State budget provided $14 million in Capital Funding for libraries in the state.

I would encourage you to visit South Jamaica Library and Rochdale Village Library where you will find an abundance of services, over 7 million items covering all subject areas including books, movies, music, books-on-tape, newspapers, periodicals, CDs CD-ROMs, DVDs, free internet access and extensive selection of online reference databases. For more information and branch hours please visit the Queens Library Web site at

South Jamaica Library
108-41 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11433
(718) 739-4088
Bus Transportation:
Q111 or 113
Rochdale Village Community Library
169-09 137th Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11434
(718) 723-4440
Bus Transportation:
Q3, Q85, Q111 or Q113
Queens Public Library
89-11 Merrick Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11432
(718) 990-0700
Bus Transportation:
Numerous buses go to 165th St. Bus Terminal

Assemblymember Cook Recommends Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Smoke Detector for Every Home

What you should know about Carbon Monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas, made all the more dangerous because it is odorless, tasteless, colorless and non-irritating. The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu, many victims are not even aware they are being exposed. Carbon monoxide inhibits the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen which quickly passes into our bloodstream. According to the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) more than 500 people die every year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning and another 15,000 seek medical attention after being exposed to the gas.

Carbon monoxide comes from burning fuel which produces CO. Most households contain several CO sources these include: furnaces, space heaters and hot water heaters, gas stoves and clothes dryers, fireplaces and wood burning stoves, charcoal and barbecue rills, lawn mowers, automobiles. CO can rise to danger levels when fuel-burning appliances are installed incorrectly, damaged or improperly vented. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these senseless tragedies. To prevent CO poisoning proper installation, regular maintenance and adequate ventilation of fuel-burning appliances are key to keeping your family and loved ones safe.

Assemblymember Cook recommends every home to install a carbon monoxide alarm and smoke detector. If you already have one it is extremely important to change the batteries once a year and test periodically. For more information, please contact her office for a carbon monoxide brochure at (718) 322-3975.

Important Phone Numbers
KeySpan Customer Service Automated (718) 643-4050
Gas Emergencies Safety Services (718) 643-4050
Emergencies 911
Government Information and Non-emergency Services 311


Albany Office: L.O.B. - Room 331, Albany, NY 12248
(Office) 518-455-4203   (Fax) 518-455-3606
District Office: 142-15 Rockaway Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11436
(Office) 718-322-3975     (Fax) 718-322-4085
Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
For assistance you are welcome to call or stop by Assemblymember Cook’s Office