City Releases Details of Turnaround Plans

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While its plans to improve 24 "turnaround" schools appear to have been thwarted in court, the city's Department of Education has released the details for what it dreamed of doing at each of the buildings this fall.

The plans were submitted to the state's education department in March, but the agency said it could not release them directly to reporters. The city finally released them late Thursday.

In a 77-page overall application, the city describes how it would use millions of dollars in federal school improvement grants at the 24 struggling schools. State Education Commissioner John King approved of those plans in June but he reminded the city that it could not receive the grants unless it met the federal government's conditions for school turnaround, namely replacing at least half of the teachers and many of the principals at the 24 schools.

Mr. King has not said whether the city still has time to claim the federal dollars. The Bloomberg administration has said it will appeal Tuesday's ruling by a state judge, who found an arbitrator acted within his powers when he blocked the city from letting go almost 3000 staffers at the affected schools. The arbitrator said the city violated union contracts by making the teachers reapply for their positions.

The city's application provides some new details about how it would use the federal funds to support the schools. Its plans include:

—Extended learning time for students in the form of after-school and Saturday interventions for struggling students.

—A teacher residency program for teachers completing their masters degrees and getting certified in math, science, English and social studies. The teachers would be paired with mentor teachers at low-performing schools with the goal of placing them in the 24 turnaround schools. The city took in 25 teachers last year and was planning to train another 60 this coming year, with the support of Urban Teacher Residency United in Chicago.

—Freshman and summer academies for incoming ninth grade students to ease their transition from middle school.

—Technology in the classroom, with online courses and upgrades including iPads, Smartboards and laptops.

—Targeted interventions for students with additional staff to teach English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and credit recovery classes for students at risk of failing their classes and/or dropping out.

—"Implementation managers" to serve as talent coaches for the schools and to consult on teacher quality and recruitment.

—New staffers at the Department of Education's central level to support the 24 schools. These positions include a full-time Chief Executive of Turnaround who would be paid $180,000 plus benefits; a Turnaround Project Manager to be paid $75,000 in the first year; plus about 30 other staffers including "teacher effectiveness implementation coordinators."

—Six Educational Partnership Organizations would continue working with some of the schools to help them develop small learning communities and train the teachers.

Vincent Brevetti, senior director for program management at the Institute for Student Achievement, said he doesn't know what will happen this fall in terms of implementing some of these changes. His non-profit is working with John Dewey High School and August Martin High School.

"The D.O.E. continues to sponsor meetings attended by principals, central staff and network staff to help schools plan for the fall," he said.

The city also released a 770-page document detailing specific plans for each of the 24 schools.

For example, Automotive High School, in Brooklyn, was to receive a breakfast program. It would also pursue strategies "to deepen partnerships with community-based organizations, such as Counseling in Schools and Good Shepherd Services, to offer a school-based mental health service in the building that would be available to all students on a daily basis, or to form partnerships with off-site agencies that could provide services in the building on a weekly basis."

John Dewey High School was slated to create a Health Occupations Career Academy and a Performing Arts & Dance Academy starting this fall.

Meanwhile, Friday is the deadline for teachers from the 24 schools who were planning to transfer to other schools to tell the city if they would now like to stay at their 2011-2012 school.

And the D.O.E. says seven principals, not six, were eligible to come back to their buildings but that only two have chosen to do so: Maria Ortega, at J.H.S. 166 in Brooklyn and John Ficalora at Newtown High School, in Queens.