New York

Selective film high school among new schools opening in Sept.

A selective high school run by an organization called Ghetto Film School and a high school that’s remarkable because its building is freestanding, rather than shared with other schools, are set to open this fall, the Department of Education announced today.

The DOE launched its annual new schools announcement blitz today with news about six schools, including the two high schools, that will open in September. They are among 22 schools citywide that will move into new or expanded buildings over the summer. The 14,000 new school seats that are being added represent “the full impact” of the current capital plan, according to DOE officials. (The proposal for the next five-year capital plan doesn’t call for as much building.)

Of particular note is Cinema High School in the Bronx, which will be run in partnership with Ghetto Film School, a program that has for years introduced Bronx teens to film production. The school will admit students selectively; it’s among the roster of new selective schools Mayor Bloomberg promised in 2005.

In some parts of the city, new schools are scheduled to open to replace others that are being phased out because of poor performance. Those new schools have not yet been announced. At least the high schools that will open in September will be revealed by the end of next week; they will then try to woo applicants at a new schools fair.

The DOE’s press release and the full list of schools announced today is after the jump.

CHANCELLOR KLEIN ANNOUNCES TWENTY-TWO NEWLY CONSTRUCTED SCHOOL BUILDINGS TO OPEN IN SEPTEMBER 2009

New Buildings Will House 26 Schools, Including A New Selective School in the Bronx

14,000 New Seats To Be Created Across the Five Boroughs

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that 26 schools will open in 22 newly constructed school buildings at the start of the 2009-10 school year. The 26 schools include six schools opening for the first time and 20 schools gaining annexes or moving out of antiquated or temporary buildings. Among the new schools are a selective school in the Bronx and the first high school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In all, 14,000 new seats will be created Citywide.

“Under the Mayor’s Capital Plan, we are creating outstanding new spaces for brand new schools, schools in temporary sites, and schools in older buildings,” Chancellor Klein said. “The new schools and high-quality existing schools in these spaces will provide great choices for more families in neighborhoods in New York City.”

“With more than 14,000 seats opening this year, we’re now beginning to see the full impact of the City’s historic $13.1 billion Capital Plan,” Deputy Chancellor for Finance and Administration Kathleen Grimm said. “Between 2009 and 2012, we’ll add more than 34,000 new seats across the City. These new seats will alleviate pockets of overcrowding, and will help to ensure that all students are going to school in facilities designed to best help them succeed.”

“In September, we will proudly open 22 beautiful new school facilities,” School Construction Authority President Sharon Greenberger said. “These buildings include 14 entirely new facilities, plus eight additions or annexes featuring state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries, and science labs. These new buildings will help schools provide students with the resources they need for an outstanding education.”

Six of the schools opening in newly constructed buildings next year will be opening for the first time. These include the Cinema School, the fifth new selective school built by Mayor Bloomberg. In 2005 Mayor Bloomberg promised to create seven such schools; two more selective schools are slated to open over the next two years. Sunset Park High School, a new large Brooklyn high school, will also open. Sunset Park High School will be divided into three small learning communities, providing students with a personalized learning environment within the context of the larger high school. Existing schools moving into new buildings include PS 65, known as “the Little Red School House,” which will move from two different locations into a single building thanks to a close partnership between the DOE and the District 19 community.

“I am very pleased with today’s announcement, and proud that the Cinema School will be located in the Bronx,” Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. said. “The school will provide students with an ambitious full-time film curriculum while supporting a rigorous academic education. These are the types of innovative new school options that our students and families want and deserve.”

The facilities opening in September 2009 are being constructed as part of the Department of Education’s historic $13.1 billion 2005-2009 Capital Plan, which is set to create more than 55,000 new school seats. In November 2008, the Department of Education released its proposal for the 2010-2014 Capital Plan, which will add 25,000 more seats across the City. After meeting with and collecting feedback from Community Education Councils across the City, the Department of Education will present a revised Capital Plan to the Panel for Educational Policy in February.

New schools opening in newly-constructed facilities will begin with one or two grades and phase in one grade level at a time. Existing schools moving from temporary locations will be able to expand to their fully-planned size. More information about the schools moving into new buildings in 2009 can be found at www.nyc.gov/schools/Facilities/FacilitiesSitePlanning/.

Schools Located in Buildings Opening for September 2009

Manhattan
•    26 Broadway Building
o    Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, HS, opened 2005, moving from a temporary location

Bronx
•    Jonas Bronck Building @ East Fordham Road
o    Jonas Bronck Academy, HS, opened 2005, moving from a temporary location

•    James Monroe HS Annex
o    The Cinema School, a new selective high school opening in September 2009
o    Mott Hall V, MS, District 12, opened 2005, moving from a temporary location

•    Bronx Studio School Building
o    Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists, an Urban Assembly School, MS/HS, opened 2004, moving from a temporary location

•    Reverend James A. Polite Avenue School Complex
o    Peace and Diversity Academy, HS, opened 2004, moving from a temporary location
o    The Metropolitan High School, HS, opened 2005, moving from a temporary location

•    PS 169 Building
o    School program not yet determined

Brooklyn
•    Sunset Park High School Building
o    Sunset Park High School, HS, opening in September 2009
o    Building will include seats for a District 75 program

•    Waverly Avenue Building
o    Achievement First Endeavor Charter School, ES/MS, opened 2006, moving from a temporary location into a new building funded through a charter partnership

•    PS/IS 366 Building
o    Science and Medicine Middle School, MS, District 18, opening in September 2009
o    Second school program not yet determined

•    696 Jamaica Avenue Building
o    PS 65 “The Little Red School House”, ES, District 19, moving from two separate locations into one building
o    Building will include seats for a District 75 program

•    PS/IS 237 Building
o    The Brooklyn School of Inquiry, ES/MS, District 20, opening in September 2009
o    The Academy of Talented Scholars, ES, District 20, opening in September 2009
o    Building will include seats for a District 75 program

•     New Utrecht High School Addition
o    New Utrecht High School, HS, addition to an existing facility

•    PS 229 Addition
o    PS 229, preK-6, District 20, addition to an existing facility

Queens
•    Frank Sinatra High School Building
o    Frank Sinatra High School, HS, moving from a temporary location

•    PS 128 Building
o    PS 128, ES/MS, District 24, demolition of the existing facility and construction of a new expanded facility
o    Building will include seats for a District 75 program

•    PS 49 Addition
o    PS 49, ES/MS, District 24, addition to an existing facility

•    PS 102 Addition
o    PS 102, ES/MS, District 24, addition to an existing facility

•    PS 113 Addition
o    PS 113, ES/MS, District 24, addition to an existing facility

•    St. Bartholomew School Annex
o    School program not yet determined

•    PS 188 Annex
o    PS 188, ES, District 26, annex to an existing facility

•    PS 78 Annex
o    PS 78, ES, District 30, annex to an existing facility

Staten Island
•    PS/IS 861 Building
o    The Staten Island School of Civic Leadership, ES/MS, District 31, new school
o    Building will include seats for a District 75 program

a 'meaningful' education?

How a Colorado court case could change how public schools everywhere serve students with special needs

Dougco headquarters in Castle Rock (John Leyba/The Denver Post).

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday grappled with the question of what kind of education public schools must provide students with disabilities, hearing arguments in a case that originated with a complaint against a suburban Denver school district and that could have profound implications nationwide.

The case involves a student diagnosed with autism and attention deficit/hyperactive disorder. His parents pulled him out of his Douglas County elementary school, saying he wasn’t making enough progress and the district’s response was lacking.

They enrolled the boy in a private school for children with autism and asked the district to reimburse them for the tuition, arguing their son was due a “free appropriate public education” as required by the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The law spells out the requirements states must meet to receive federal money to educate special-needs students. The district declined, saying it had met the standard of the law.

The family eventually filed a lawsuit against the district. Lower courts all sided with the district, reasoning that it had provided the child “some” educational benefit — the standard cited in the federal statute at issue.

Lower courts across the nation have varied in their definition of the proper standard. The high court arguments Wednesday centered on whether “some” benefit was good enough, or whether special-needs students deserve a more “meaningful” benefit.

Jeffrey Fisher, an attorney for the boy’s family, told the justices that as a general rule, individualized education plans for special education students should include “a level of educational services designed to allow the child to progress from grade to grade in the general curriculum.”

Throughout the arguments, the justices expressed frustration with what Justice Samuel Alito described as “a blizzard of words” that the law and courts have used to define what’s appropriate for special needs students.

Chief Justice John Roberts said regardless of the term used, “the whole package has got to be helpful enough to allow the student to keep up with his peers.”

Neal Katyal, an attorney for the school district, argued that providing children “some benefit” is a reasonable standard.

“That’s the way court after court has interpreted it,” he said. “It’s worked well. This court shouldn’t renege on that.”

Ron Hager, senior staff attorney for special education at the National Disability Rights Network, attended the oral arguments Wednesday and said he was optimistic the lower court’s ruling would be overturned.

He said if the Supreme Court does overturn the federal Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling and requires a higher standard, it won’t necessarily come with major financial costs for school districts. Instead, he said, it will nudge them to be proactive and provide teacher training and intervention services early on instead of waiting until problems — and the expenses associated with them — snowball later.

Marijo Rymer, executive director of the Arc of Colorado, which advocates on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said she was heartened to see the case advance to the Supreme Court. Establishing a clearer standard on what constitutes a fair and appropriate education for students with disabilities is a civil rights issue, she said.

“It’s critical that federal law, which is what this is based on, be reinforced and supported, and the court is in the position to deliver that message to the nation’s schools and the taxpayers that fund them,” Rymer said.

Both Hager and Rymer acknowledged that even if the Supreme Court establishes a new, higher standard, it could be open to interpretation. Still, they said it would send a strong message to school districts about their responsibilities to students with disabilities.

Summer remix

Ten stories you may have missed this summer (and should read now as the new school year kicks in)

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
Gabrielle Colburn, 7, adds her artistic flair to a mural in downtown Memphis in conjunction with the XQ Super Schools bus tour in June.

Labor Day used to signal the end of summer break and the return to school. That’s no longer the case in Tennessee, but the long holiday is a good time to catch up on all that happened over the summer. Here are 10 stories to get you up to speed on K-12 education in Tennessee and its largest school district.

TNReady is back — with a new test maker.

Last school year ended on a cliffhanger, with the State Department of Education canceling its end-of-year tests for grades 3-8 in the spring and firing testmaker Measurement Inc. after a series of missteps. In July, Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that Minnesota-based Questar will pick up where Measurement Inc. left off. She also outlined the state’s game plan for standardized tests in the coming year.

But fallout over the state’s failed TNReady test in 2015-16 will be felt for years.

The one-year void in standardized test scores has hit Tennessee at the heart of its accountability system, leaving the state digging for other ways to assess whether all of its students are improving.

Speaking of accountability, Tennessee also is updating that plan under a new federal education law.

The state Department of Education has been working with educators, policymakers and community members on new ways to evaluate schools in answer to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which requires states to judge schools by non-academic measures as well as test scores.

Meanwhile, issues of race and policing have educators talking about how to foster conversations about social justice in school.

In the wake of police-related killings that rocked the nation, five Memphis teachers talked about how they tackle difficult conversations about race all year long.

School closures made headlines again in Memphis — with more closings likely.

Closing schools has become an annual event as Tennessee’s largest district loses students and funding, and this year was no exception. The shuttering of Carver and Northside high schools brought the total number of district-run school closures to at least 21 since 2012. And more are likely. This month, Shelby County Schools is scheduled to release a facilities analysis that should set the stage for future closures. Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has said the district needs to shed as many as two dozen schools — and 27,000 seats — over the next four years. A Chalkbeat analysis identifies 25 schools at risk.

Exacerbating the challenges of shifting enrollment, families in Foote Homes scrambled to register their children for school as Memphis’ last public housing project prepared to close this month amid a delay in delivering housing vouchers to move elsewhere.

The new school year has officially begun, with the budget approved not a moment too soon for Shelby County Schools.

District leaders that began the budget season facing an $86 million shortfall eventually convinced county commissioners to significantly increase local funding, while also pulling some money from the school system’s reserve funds. The result is a $959 million budget that gives most of the district’s teachers a 3 percent raise and restores funding for positions deemed critical for continued academic progress.

The district also unveiled its first annual report on its growing sector of charter schools.

With charter schools now firmly entrenched in Memphis’ educational landscape, a Shelby County Schools analysis shows a mixed bag of performance, while calling on traditional and charter schools to learn from each other and promising better ways to track quality.