2011-12-21 / Features

DOE To Phase Out 19 More Schools City Wide

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

The Department of Education has announced plans this month to close or phase-out 19 more schools including one in Queens. In February, the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will vote on proposals to close or “shrink” 25 schools. Shrinkage occurs when another school, usually a charter school, moves into the same building as an existing school. The DOE refers to this action as co-location.

At the December 14 meeting of the citywide PEP held at Newtown H.S. in Elmhurst, co-locations of three new charter schools into existing schools were approved. On other occasions PEP has voted to locate charter schools into schools that have been closed.

Three busloads of speakers arrived at Newtown H.S. on buses hired by the United Federation of Teachers to oppose the co-location of the Brooklyn Success Academy Charter School into a school building on Baltic Street in Cobble Hill that already is home to the Brooklyn School for Global Studies, the School for International Studies and P.S. 368. In addition, the co-location of a new public charter school, Success Academy Bed- Stuy 2 into an existing school, P.S. 59 and the co-location of the Uncommon Charter High School 2 with the existing Brooklyn Academy H.S., Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory H.S. and a District 75 (special education) school were approved.

On December 9, DOE said P.S. 215 (Lucretia Mott) in District 27 would close at the end of the year due to poor performance. P.S. 215, a pre-kindergarten through grade five elementary school with an enrollment of 618 students, is located at 535 Briar Place in Far Rockaway. Over the past five years, the DOE annual report has been instrumental in deciding which schools would be closed or phased-out, although enrollment and safety are also considered as factors. Only three of the schools to be closed are elementary schools.

P.S. 215 received an “F” on its most recent 2010-11 progress report, a “D” on the 2009-10 report, and a “C” on the 2008-09 report over the last three academic years. Schools that get D’s and F’s or three C’s in a row “may face consequences, including change in school leadership or school closure”, according to the DOE.

The December PEP meeting at Newtown was predominated by numerous speakers against the co-location of charter schools in public school buildings. “We want our community public schools and we want them properly funded,” said one.

Councilmember Brad Lander, representing Brooklyn’s 39th District covering Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, said he was not opposed to charter schools “in principle”.

Lander, however, said he was opposed to charter schools “when they take away space and valuable resources from existing schools”.

Assemblymember William Colton, representing the 47th district in Brooklyn, called the co-locations “unfair and unreasonable”. “We have a series of successful local (school) programs and this particular proposal will stifle their growth,” he said. “We already have over 1,500 public schools and (charter schools) are undermining the public school system.”

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