Film, health care, and Bard early college: New high schools coming to Brooklyn and Queens

A man wearing glasses and a dark suit speaks from a podium with three flags in the background.
New York City Schools Education Chancellor David Banks speaks at a press conference on Mon., Jan. 22, 2024 at the Education Department's Lower Manhattan headquarters at Tweed Courthouse in New York City, New York. Banks previewed three new high schools at a budget hearing in Albany this week. (Alex Zimmerman / Chalkbeat)

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Attention, New York City families: Three new high schools may soon join the hundreds of secondary school options across the five boroughs.

A Bard High School Early College may be coming to Brooklyn, while Queens is getting a career and technical school focused on the film industry as well as a school aiming to create a pipeline to health care jobs.

Schools Chancellor David Banks previewed the schools at a budget hearing in Albany this week, holding them up as examples of strong partnerships with outside organizations, as well as the many career pathways offered to the city’s students.

“This is not your father’s vocational ed stuff — this is not shop class,” he said during the Thursday hearing. “These are highly rigorous, credentialed programs. When kids come out with these kinds of credentials, they can step right into the 21st century workforce and put themselves in a position to be on the track to the middle class and beyond.”

In Brooklyn, Bard is poised to launch a new campus, offering families in the borough access to the network of coveted public high schools that allow students to earn an associate degree by the time they graduate.

The Bard model gives students an opportunity to take courses with college instructors, as well as engage in small, writing- and discussion-based seminars. Its Manhattan and Queens locations are highly sought-after, and it just opened a site in the Bronx in September.

“The demand to get into the school is simply overwhelming,” Banks said of the new Bronx location during the hearing. “And we have plans to open up a Bard in Brooklyn as well.”

The proposed expansion into Brooklyn is slated to be considered at a Feb. 27 meeting of the city’s Panel for Educational Policy, a board that votes on major policy proposals and contracts.

If approved, the new Bard location at 301 Vermont St. in East New York would open in the 2024-25 school year, taking on a ninth and 11th grade class, according to city documents. The new school would serve roughly 150 students in its first year, scaling up over time to reach a full enrollment of approximately 500 students — with admissions priority given to students in East New York’s District 19, Brownsville’s District 23, and other neighboring Brooklyn school districts.

Meanwhile, in Queens, two new schools will offer students a chance to explore career pathways before graduation.

Motion Picture Technical High School will allow students to wade into the film and television industry. Opening in September at a temporary site in northern Queens, the school comes as a collaboration with the Roybal School of Film and Television Fund and offers students a chance to explore aspects of the industry, such as cinematography, editing, sound design, set construction, special effects, and post-production, according to the city’s admissions portal.

The school will open with about 100-200 ninth graders for its inaugural year, giving priority to students who live in Queens, according to its website. It follows an educational option admissions process, meaning the school sets aside seats for students at different academic levels to promote academic diversity. (It is hoping to move into a new building in Woodside, at 53-16 Northern Blvd. in the 2025-26 school year.)

The school aims to create pathways into the industry for underrepresented communities, and notes its proximity to the city’s film and television studios will help students obtain hands-on experience.

Queens will also see the addition of a health careers high school in the coming years through a partnership with Northwell Health, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies. The school comes as part of a Bloomberg initiative to establish public high schools across the country that graduate students directly into health care careers.

Expected to open by 2026, the school will offer students “robust academic programming, specialized healthcare classes, work-based learning at the partner health system and the opportunity to earn industry-valued credentials and certifications,” according to a Bloomberg press release last month. The Queens program will be one of 10 established across the country by the $250 million Bloomberg initiative.

The new schools come as Banks has described expanding career and technical education options for students across the city’s schools as a major focal point of his administration.

A spokesperson for the city’s Education Department said details about the new schools would be released at a later date.

Julian Shen-Berro is a reporter covering New York City. Contact him at jshen-berro@chalkbeat.org.

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