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City To Close, Transform and Reopen 33 Schools

13 Schools in Brooklyn Affected

By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — In a bid to nail down $60 million in federal funding, Mayor Bloomberg is moving forward with a plan to close, transform and then reopen 33 struggling city schools, and fire up to half their staff. Thirteen of the schools are in Brooklyn.

While most of the schools are considered “persistently” low- performing, several have received As or Bs on their most recent city-issued progress reports (school “report cards”), including the Brooklyn School for Global Studies in Cobble Hill.

The maneuver is a “technical matter,” insiders say, designed as a way to keep the federal funds without having to reach a teacher’s agreement, which is still being negotiated.

Because the city and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) couldn’t get together on a method for evaluating teachers by the Dec. 31 deadline, the state Department of Education said earlier this month that it had suspended the $60 million, earmarked for turning around the 33 schools.

“There’s $60 million on the table and we don’t want to walk away from it,” said city Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson Matt Mittenthal. The city will implement the federal “turnaround model” in the schools, he said, and use provision 18D of the teachers’ union contract “to establish school-based committees that will assess and replace up to 50 percent of the faculty based on merit—which means the best teachers will stay and the least effective will go. Schools will be able to hire the best applicants for open jobs.”

The committee will include the school’s principal, two UFT members and two city DOE representatives.

Besides teachers, guidance counselors, laboratory specialists, school secretaries and UFT paraprofessionals could lose their jobs. “We believe this action makes us eligible for the State Improvement Grants funding and we have asked the state to restore the funds,” Mittenthal said.


Global Studies: Already Transformed?

Mittenthal said that the 33 schools were designated by the state as Persistently Low Achieving.

Thirteen of the schools on the list have already received “transformation” funding. After years as a low-performing school, for example, Global Studies in Cobble Hill recently underwent a comprehensive transformation, with millions of dollars from the federal government paying for new “master” teachers, technology and other resources.

According to Insideschools.org, about half the staff was new in 2011. Global Studies received a B on their most recent report card.

Parents at Global Studies, located at 284 Baltic St. (at Court Street), have spent the last few months trying, unsuccessfully, trying to fight former Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz’s plan to place one of her Success Academy Charter Schools inside the school building. They fear the charter school will derail the progress they’ve made and sap resources from their own students.

The other schools on the list fall into various categories such as “Restart Schools,” “Persistently Low Achieving Schools” and phase-out schools.

The Brooklyn schools affected by this decision include:

Boys and Girls High School; John Ericsson Middle School; Pacific High School (replaced by Brooklyn Frontiers High School); Paul Robeson High School (replaced by Pathways in Technology Early College H.S.); Bushwick Community High School (to restart as New Visions for Public Schools); Charles O. Dewey Intermediate School (to restart under the auspices of Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association); George Gershwin Junior High School (to restart under the auspices of Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association); Sheepshead Bay High School (to restart as Johns Hopkins University/Diplomas Now); Automotive High School (to restart as New Visions for New Schools); Franklin D. Roosevelt High School; Cobble Hill School of American Studies; Brooklyn School for Global Studies and William Grady Vocational High School.

January 24, 2012 - 4:47pm


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