December 9, 2011
The Department of Education has named seven more schools it intends to close and three more schools where it aims to lop off middle school grades.
The 10 schools named today join 15 whose proposed closures or truncations were announced yesterday. The new additions to the closure list include three long-troubled high schools; two middle schools started under the Bloomberg administration; and the middle school grades of Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts, where scholar Cornel West last week pledged to fight any closure plans.
Under the proposals, Manhattan’s century-old Washington Irving High School, which the DOE had shrunk in recent years, will stop accepting new students and will close its doors in 2015. So will Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education High School, where students recently complained that they had been left without teachers in some classes. And Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School in the Bronx, where students had been sounding the alarm about the school’s status for years, will also close.
Both Washington Irving and Grace Dodge are in their first year of federally funded “transformation,” an improvement strategy reserved for the most struggling schools. Department officials said that the schools chosen to replace Washington Irving and Grace Dodge would get their federal funds in an arrangement that the city used to support 16 new schools this year.
Altogether, 11 middle schools are closing in a year that Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott promised to focus on improving weak middle schools and opening new ones.
The final tally affects 25 of the 47 schools that the DOE shortlisted this fall for possible closure. Sixteen schools will stay open but will receive a “Targeted Action Plan,” a new addition to the department’s efforts to address struggling schools.
The plans will list steps the schools should take to improve and goals they must meet to stay off the chopping block, department officials said. The schools could also get extra resources, either from the city or through federal funds designated for overhauling low-performing schools.
Schools that escaped closure include Herbert Lehman High School, where leadership change followed a grade-changing investigation; a middle school in the same the building as an elementary school slated for closure yesterday; a secondary school that shares Wadleigh’s building; and Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory School, where students pointed out that their school was on par with other schools on its campus that weren’t on the closure shortlist.
At Brooklyn’s Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, which will remain open, students had been prepared to “occupy the building” if closure had been proposed, according to an organizer from the Coalition for Educational Justice, Fiorella Guevara.
Over the next two months, the department must hold public hearings at each of the schools on the chopping block. The Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on the closure plans at its February meeting. The panel has never rejected a city proposal.
The seven schools added to the closure list today:
P.S. 22, Brooklyn
P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott, Queens
Washington Irving High School, Manhattan
Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School, Bronx
Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education High School, Bronx
Aspire Preparatory Middle School, Bronx
Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy VII, Brooklyn
And the three additional schools that will lose their middle grades:
P.S. 298 Betty Shabazz, Brooklyn
Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts, Manhattan
Frederick Douglass Academy VI, Brooklyn