Anna Phillips is a staff reporter at GothamSchools.
The budgets for each public school that arrive each spring, dictating the degree of austerity for the following year, are almost never seen by parents. They are not pretty, most principals would agree, and they have grown increasingly complicated in the last few years. Yet parents, as well as their children, soon feel the consequences, as schools turn to the families for everything from donations of toilet paper and hand sanitizers to money, which can total thousands of dollars, to fill gaps in staffing.
Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott proposed on Thursday to offer buyouts to teachers in the "absent teacher reserve pool'' and to get rid of those teachers who receive unsatisfactory ratings two years in a row.
In response to the low number of Bronx students who have been admitted to the city's elite public high schools in recent years, Borough President Rubin Diaz Jr. has recommended a change in the admissions process to place more weight on grade-point averages and essays, and less on a standardized exam. City officials said they had no plans to move away from a test-based admissions policy.
How does the Bronx Middle School of Academic and Career Technology sound? Or the School of Opportunities at the August Martin Campus? Those are the new names given to two of the 24 public schools that are slated to be shut down at the end of the school year and reopened in September with the same students but shuffled staff and new identities. Incoming ninth graders will learn their school's new name on Thursday.
In an effort to expand the introduction of a new set of learning standards into the city's public schools, officials are asking science and social studies teachers to introduce more reading and writing into students' classwork. This school year, English and math teachers have already begun to adapt their lessons to the new requirements.
After losing roughly 5,300 public school teachers to budget cuts over the last several years and watching class sizes rise, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday that he plans to reverse course by providing money to hire more teachers.
State education officials have again tossed out a question on the standardized tests after finding that errors by Pearson, the test-maker, made the problem virtually impossible for students to solve.
A report by charter school advocates found that teacher and principal attrition is a significant hurdle for the sector, which is young but growing quickly. There are currently 136 charter schools in New York City, and from year to year, they are burning through about a third of their teachers.
UPDATED | On the morning that a city board was scheduled to vote on the closing of 26 schools, city officials removed two of them from the list, saying that both could improve without the use of a more invasive strategy. In both cases, elected officials and other powerful advocates intervened to try to spare the school, and one of them, Merryl Tisch, said after hearing about the reprieve, "It's the first thing that's made me smile since the pineapple."
The names of two-dozen New York City public schools, some of them among the oldest educational institutions in the city, are likely to be erased on Thursday night when a city board votes on proposals to close the schools. Among them are Flushing High School, which lays claim to being the oldest public high school in New York City, and Richmond Hill High School, which is so overcrowded that its students have overflowed into trailers. But in a last-minute reprieve, Bushwick Community and Grover Cleveland high schools were spared.
This year has brought a heightened level of scrutiny to the state math and reading exams, as teachers and principals give the tests fresh consideration, knowing that under the new statewide teacher evaluation system and with schools in danger of being closed for poor performance, they could lose their jobs if students do poorly.
A years-long fight over unionization efforts by teachers at a Harlem charter school has crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in South Africa, at the doorstep of one of the famous families the school is named after. A letter from Max Sisulu, the speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, asked the union and school's board of trustees to end their fighting.
The number of 4- and 5-year-old children who aced the city's test for gifted and talented programs rose by 47 percent this year, making it possible for there to be four applicants for every available seat in the most selective schools.
After three postponed attempts, New York State is on track to eliminate a set of less demanding exams that thousands of students with disabilities have used to earn diplomas. But officials are proposing to replace those tests with a new safety net for students who might otherwise fail to graduate from high school.
At a City Council hearing on school co-locations on Thursday, council members complained that when space-sharing plans go bad in their districts, parents turn to them for relief. City education officials said that more than half of the city's schools share space now, and most of them do so peacefully.
An organization that occupies a middle ground between those who believe schools should be more like community centers, and the education-reform movement, is expanding into six new schools next year. In the past, the group has typically worked with schools that are already overwhelmed by the problems that students living in poverty often present.
Like many other gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhoods, Bedford-Stuyvesant has an influx of new residents who have a complex relationship with the public schools. But with the backing of a prominent charter school leader's husband, three Brooklyn charter school teachers are planning to offer an alternative in 2014. First, they are traveling to schools across the country to get ideas.
Until recently, many of the likely candidates for mayor of New York City have shied away from taking public positions on how they would govern the city's more-than 1,700 public schools. But on Tuesday, several of them spoke about where they stood on school closings and parental engagement.
A report released on Thursday by the New York City Independent Budget Office said that while the A to F letter grades that are assigned to public schools annually are an improvement over other, less complex ways of measuring performance, they tend to punish schools with higher concentrations of poor, black and Hispanic students.
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said on Wednesday that the city will close and reopen 26 schools this summer, regardless of whether New York State's education commissioner approves the controversial plans. At stake is nearly $60 million in federal grant money.