The Department of Education named another 14 struggling schools it plans to close Tuesday, bringing the total number to 26 schools the department says should be phased out by next fall. This includes the Kappa II school which it says should be closed by the end of this school year.
Deputy Chancellor Mark Sternberg says, "These are tough decisions, but we cannot afford to let schools continue to fail students when we know we can do better."
Those schools being phased out include Jamaica High School, Columbus High and Paul Robeson High, which were among 19 schools the city tried to close last year before a court found it didn’t provide enough community notification.
On Monday, the department recommended phasing out John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, Beach Channel High School in Queens and the Ross Global Academy Charter School in Manhattan, among other schools. In the case of the Ross Academy, the department is recommending the state not renew the school's charter.
Among the schools named Monday, there were four schools named by the Department of Education in the Bronx. Bronx Borough President Reuben Diaz Jr. said school officials should consider other alternatives for the schools, like restructuring them or changing their leadership. Diaz says parents have complained about a lack of resources for science and computer labs. “Over the last eight years, the closings and the re-openings of schools have not led to the progress that is needed,” Diaz said Monday.
He says he'll continue to press officials to find alternatives to school closings. “We're going to fight them at every chance that we get to make sure they're considerate of what the neighborhood, the community, parents, students and teachers want,” Diaz said.
Phasing out a school would occur over the next three years and means the school would stop taking incoming students next September. Kappa II may close by the end of this school year.
The department identified a total of 55 struggling schools earlier this fall that could be phased out, and will announce its decision for the rest of them Tuesday. Those the city decides not to close could receive federal money to improve. There are two ways this can happen: a "transformation model," which keeps most of the staff (see The Big Fix series for more information) or a "turnaround" approach that replaces half of the teachers.
Rene Osborne-Hill, a guidance counselor at the Academy of Environmental Science Secondary School in East Harlem, one of the schools slated for closure said, “It hurts, it’s frustrating, why can't they do something if they see that this is not working? Why can't they fix it? We're losing a high school in the community, that's really sad."
City officials say they are trying to avoid a lawsuit, like last year, but the teacher's union president Michael Mulgrew told reporters that the city can count on seeing the union in court.
List of schools to be closed:
(*These were among the 19 low-performing schools the city tried to close this year before a court found that education officials hand't properly notified the affected communities.)
Below is a map of the proposed schools to be closed.
View City Schools to be Phased Out by September 2011 in a larger map