Seven Queens High Schools To Close Under ‘Turnaround’ Plan
Seven high schools in Queens will close their doors this June after the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) approved “turnaround” models for 24 schools citywide. The vote was eight to four in favor of closing and immediately reopening schools with different names in the same building under the turnaround provision at the April 26 PEP meeting in Brooklyn.
The seven PEP members present of the eight appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg voted in favor, as did Staten Island borough appointee Diane Peruggia. The four other PEP borough appointees, from The Bronx (Wilfredo Pagan), Manhattan (Patrick Sullivan), Brooklyn (Gbubemi Okotieeuro) and Queens (Dmytro Fedkowskyj), opposed the closings.
In addition to the seven schools in Queens, 11 were closed in The Bronx, three in Brooklyn and three in Manhattan. No school in Staten Island was targeted for closing. The Panel has never voted down any proposal by the Department of Education and has now approved 44 school closings since February.
Earlier that same day, the DOE announced that Grover Cleveland H.S. in Ridgewood was removed from the list of eight high schools to be closed in Queens. The remaining seven high schools to be closed are: Long Island City, William Cullen Bryant, Newtown, Flushing, August Martin, John Adams and Richmond Hill.
In a statement regarding the removal of Cleveland and another high school in Brooklyn from the list of closings, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, “[The schools] have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools.”
Cleveland received an overall grade of “C” on the school’s 2010-11 progress report, with a grade of “C” in student progress and an “F” in student performance. Student performance measures graduation rates and Cleveland posted a four-year rate of 57.8 percent and a six-year graduation rate of 64.8 percent. In addition, Cleveland had a rate of 13.4 percent college readiness (city average - 21.5 percent).
Long Island City H.S. (LICHS) also received an overall grade of “C” for 2010-11, with grades of “C” in student progress and “C” in student performance. LICHS posted a four-year graduation rate of 65.7 percent and a six-year rate of 67.5 percent. The college readiness rate at LICHS was 20.8 percent, close to the city average of 21.5 percent.
Grover Cleveland H.S. will continue on for now, while Long Island City H.S. undergoes “turnaround”.
Under “turnaround”, students who are now enrolled at the closing schools will be automatically enrolled in the new school. All teachers in the 24 schools will have to reapply for their jobs under a provision in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) contract with the city that provides for hiring by seniority.
At least 50 percent of teachers who apply can be hired, although the DOE has said there is no hiring quota. Two DOE representatives, two UFT representatives and each principal will evaluate teacher qualifications. About 1,000 teachers could lose their positions in their current schools and be forced into the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) if they are unable to find another permanent position by September.
About $60 million in federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding hinges on approval of the city’s turnaround model by New York State Education Commissioner John King. Bloomberg has said the “turnaround” model will proceed under the UFT 18-D contract procedure, whether or not the state approves.