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City trades one plan to re-locate disabled students for another

The city is swapping a plan that would have relocated nearly 100 disabled students to a new building for a plan to disperse the students into special education programs throughout the city.

Under the Department of Education’s original proposal, roughly two-thirds of the students at P.S. 138, a school for severely disabled students, would have moved to share space with the American Sign Language and English Secondary School, a middle and high school that gives admissions preference to deaf students.

That plan was scrapped after P.S. 138 parents and elected officials protested that the new site posed safety risks and that students would not be able to get around the school easily.

Some parents are saying that the department’s new plan is not much better.

In an email sent to principals this afternoon, less than two hours before a scheduled public hearing on the previous relocation plan, the DOE announced that rather than move P.S. 138 students to a new location as a group, the students would distribute them among open seats throughout the city.

Mirandy Rodriguez-Brown, the mother of a 7-year-old student with autism who attends P.S. 138, said that the city has yet to give a good reason to justify re-locating P.S. 138 students at all.

“These children don’t handle change well,” she said. “They need consistency, they need familiarity. Some children will take a year to handle these changes; some children will regress.”

DOE spokesman Danny Kanner said that the new plan will allow P.S. 138’s students to attend school either closer to their homes or in programs that are more well-suited to the students’ instructional needs.

The plan was originally developed as a way to ease overcrowding in the Chelsea school building that currently houses P.S. 11 and the Clinton School for Artists and Writers, a middle school. P.S. 138 students would have moved out of their shared space in P.S. 33 to make room for the Clinton School, which would then move into that building. The second arm of the plan, moving the Clinton School to P.S. 33, remains intact.

Susan Kramer, a Clinton School parent who heads its relocation committee, said that the DOE is moving too hastily to alleviate crowding in P.S. 11 without thoughtfully addressing the needs of other students in the building.

“DOE is just really scrambling to placate one school and they’re kind of hurting two other schools,” Kramer said.

Kramer and other representatives from the Clinton School met last week with Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott to present an alternate proposal that would allow P.S. 138 students to stay where they are, and allow the Clinton School to remain at P.S. 11 until the city finalizes a plan to give that school a new building. Under the parents’ plan, incoming kindergartners who would have been assigned to the overcrowded P.S. 11 would instead attend nearby P.S. 33.

Tonight’s public hearing was scheduled for public comment on the city’s original plan, in advance of a citywide school board vote scheduled for Wednesday. Because the plan was altered so soon before the hearing, Kanner said, the city decided to hold a question-and-answer session on the new proposal rather than cancel the hearing altogether.

A hearing on the issue has been scheduled for March 11, Kanner said, and a vote on the proposals has been postponed until the March Panel for Educational Policy meeting.

Here is the revised impact statement detailing the new plan for P.S. 138 students:

From: Panel for Educational Policy
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 5:11 PM
Subject: AMENDED PUBLIC NOTICE: PROPOSALS FOR SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN SCHOOL UTILIZATION

Amended Notice

February 22, 2010

Joel I. Klein

Chancellor

Re-siting of P.S. 138 (75M138) from School Building M033

I.       Description of the subject, purpose and substance of the proposed item under consideration and identification of all substantial revisions to the item.

This is a revision to a proposal to relocate the majority of the P.S. 138 @ M033 (75M138, hereinafter referred to as “P.S. 138”) program from school building M033 to school building M047.  P.S. 138 is an existing District 75 school that is sited in multiple locations.  M033 is located at 281 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan in District 2.  M047 is located at 223 West 25th Street, Manhattan, also in District 2. Since the proposal was initially posted on January 8, 2010, the Department of Education (“DOE”) has received several comments from P.S. 138 parents and local elected officials raising concerns about the limited number of wheelchair students that could be accommodated at M047.  As a result of these concerns, the DOE has revised its proposal.

In the 2010-2011 school year, rather than move P.S. 138 to M047, P.S. 138 will relocate most of the students currently located in school building M033 to other existing P.S. 138 sites, new sites, or other existing District 75 sites.  These moves will locate students closer to their homes, in buildings with age-appropriate general education populations, and provide greater focus on these students’ Individualized Education Programs (“IEPs”) and instructional needs.[1]

Of the 100 students currently served at M033:

·         Twenty-seven students would remain at M033.  Twenty of these students have IEPs that call for integration in a hearing environment that does not use sign language.  Seven of these students are already enrolled in inclusion classes at P.S. 33.  This site will now serve only students with cochlear implants and students in full inclusion classes.

·         Thirty-nine students would move to the main site of P.S. 138, located at M030 at 144-176 East 138th Street in District 5.  Twenty-eight of these students reside in Districts 4, 5 or 6; the M030 location is significantly closer to their homes than M033.  This site serves multiply handicapped and students with autism.

·         Thirteen students would move to the new site for P.S. 276, the Battery Park City School, located at 55 Battery Place in District 2.  This is a newly constructed facility opening in September 2010.  P.S. 276 is a zoned school that will serve PK-2 and 6th grade in 2010, expanding grades each year until reaching full scale of PK- 8th grade.  The P.S. 138 students moving to this location live in Districts 1, 2, and 3, and are age appropriate for the grades served at PS 276 in 2010. The program to which these students will transfer will be a new site for P.S. 94, an existing District 75 school with multiple sites.  All students moving to this site will be in 6:1:1 classes and are typically students with autism.

·         Eleven students would move to the new East Side Middle school building located at 331 East 91st Street in District 2.   This is a newly constructed facility opening in September 2010 that will house East Side Middle School, a District 2 middle school choice school.  The P.S. 138 students proposed for this location are age appropriate for middle school.  All students moved to this site will be in 12:1:4 classes and are multiply handicapped.

·         Ten students who do not live in Manhattan would be provided seats at schools in their home boroughs.

The DOE has proposed that the space vacated by the P.S. 138 sections that would leave M033 be used to house M.S. 260 Clinton School for Writers and Artists (“Clinton”), a District 2 middle school serving grades 6-8.  This proposal is the subject of a separate educational impact statement that will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy at its March 22, 2010 meeting, along with this proposal.  As stated above, twenty-seven P.S. 138 students, whose needs call for integration in a hearing environment that does not use sign language, will remain at M033.

The move of most sections of P.S. 138 from M033 will address the need to create additional elementary capacity in the West Village and Chelsea areas of District 2, by allowing Clinton to move from its current location in the M011 building located at 320 West 21st Street to M033.  The Clinton move will allow P.S. 11, an elementary school serving zoned students and District 2 gifted and talented students, and also located in M011, to expand.  The Clinton move is temporary while the DOE and School Construction Authority (“SCA”) acquire or construct a new facility for Clinton.  Once Clinton moves to its permanent facility, the space at M033 would be used to address District 2 needs at that time.

II.        Summary of all public comments received following the initial public notice.

The DOE received four written comments and no oral comments on the proposal to move P.S. 138 to M047.  Three letters were from parents who opposed the move. One letter noted the following: (1) the move of P.S. 138 students is a violation of their right to a free and appropriate public education; (2) the M047 site has bussing problems and bringing children with disabilities to this site will cause longer waits and increase congestion;  and (3) M047 is an old building with old elevators that will cause long waits for children in wheelchairs, thus violating their rights.  The second letter was from a parent of an I.S. 47 student.  In her letter, the parent stated that the loss of space at I.S. 47 in M047 to accommodate P.S. 138would be detrimental to I.S. 47 students.  The parent stated that progress has been made for hearing and non-hearing students at I.S. 47 and the school should be allowed to continue and to grow.  The third letter was submitted by a parent asserting opposition to the proposal for moral, legal and personal reasons.  She noted that the students at P.S. 138 have legally binding IEPs as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Also, the parent noted that the change could have an adverse effect on a child with autism.  She further noted that the M047 building is an inappropriate location for P.S. 138 students. The fourth letter was received from local elected officials, who felt strongly that M047 could not accommodate the additional wheelchair and mobility impaired students that were proposed to move into that location.

In addition to these written comments, thirteen speakers at the hearings for the Clinton relocation proposal on February 8 and 9, 2010 spoke about their concerns for the related P.S. 138 relocation proposal.  The comments included their concerns about the safety and accessibility of the M047 site for the proposed number of wheelchair students, as well as general concerns that the program would be located from a location where it has been successful for many years.

III.       Information regarding where the full text of the proposed item may be obtained.

The Revised Educational Impact Statement can be found on the Department of Education’s Web site:

http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/leadership/PEP/publicnotice/Proposals_March_Vote

IV.  Submission of public comment.

Written comments can be sent to D02Proposals@schools.nyc.gov.

Oral comments can be left at 718-935-4415.

V.       The name, office, address, email and telephone number of the city district representative, knowledgeable on the item under consideration, from whom information may be obtained concerning the item

Name: Kim Wong

Office: Office of Portfolio Planning

Address: 52 Chambers St

Email: Portfolio@schools.nyc.gov

Phone: 212-374-5049

VI.       Date, time and place of joint public hearing for this proposal.

Please note that the hearing scheduled at 225 East 23rd Street (M047) on February 22nd at 6:30 has been cancelled. The hearing scheduled at 281 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan (M033) on February 22nd at 6:30 p.m. has also been cancelled; however, due to the late notice, it will be conducted as an information session and question and answer period for all interested parties and not as a joint public hearing on the revised proposal.

The date, time, and place of the joint public hearing for the revised proposal are as follows:

March 11 at 6:30pm

281 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan

VII.     Date, time and place of the PEP meeting at which the Board will vote on the proposed item.

March 22, 2010
6:00pm

The Michael J. Petrides School

715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island

Re-siting of Clinton School for Writers and Artists (02M260) and Co-location with Existing Schools in School Building M033

I.    Description of the subject, purpose and substance of the proposed item under consideration.

In the 2010-2011 school year, Clinton School for Writers and Artists (02M260, “Clinton”), an existing school serving students in grades 6-8, will move from its current location in Community School District 2 (“District 2”) to school building M033 (hereinafter referred to as “M033”), located at 281 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, also in District 2.  M033 currently houses P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep (02M033, “P.S. 33”) and P138M (75M138, “P.S. 138M @ M033”).  This will be a temporary location for Clinton while the Department of Education (“DOE”) and School Construction Authority (“SCA”) work to identify and acquire or construct a new facility for Clinton.

Clinton is currently housed at M011 (“M011”), located at 320 West 21st Street in District 2, where it is co-located with P.S. 11 William T. Harris (“P.S. 11”), a zoned elementary school serving grades PK-5.  P.S. 11 will continue at this location.  The capacity made available by the Clinton move will serve elementary students from the P.S. 11 zone.

The 2008-2009 target utilization rate of M033 was 75%, and its target capacity is 576.  In order to accommodate Clinton in M033, the DOE is also proposing to move most of the P.S. 138M @ M033 program currently located at M033 to other existing P.S. 138 sites and other District 75 locations.  This proposal is the subject of a separate educational impact statement and will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy (“PEP”) at its March 22, 2010 meeting, along with this proposal.  P.S. 138M @ M033 serves children with hearing disabilities, autism or multiple handicaps.  Two classrooms of P.S. 138M @ M033 will remain at M033; these classes serve children with cochlear implants, whose Individual Education Plans call for integration in a hearing school environment that does not use sign language. M033 has sufficient space for Clinton, P.S. 33, and the two remaining P.S. 138M @ M033 classrooms to operate at full organizational capacity.

The move of Clinton will address the need to create space for growth in elementary school demand in District 2 by allowing P.S. 11 to expand. In M033, Clinton will expand enrollment by one section.

This amendment reflects a new date for the PEP vote on this proposal.  The proposal was originally scheduled to be voted on by the PEP at its February 24, 2010 meeting.  However, because this proposal is connected to the DOE’s proposal to re-site most of the P.S. 138 @ M033 program and the DOE has substantially revised that proposal, both proposals will now be presented to the PEP for a vote at its March 22, 2010 meeting.

II.    Information regarding where the full text of the proposed item may be obtained.

The Amended Educational Impact Statement can be found on the Department of Education’s Web site:

http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/leadership/PEP/publicnotice/Proposals_March_Vote

III.  Submission of public comment.

Written comments can be sent to D02Proposals@schools.nyc.gov.

Oral comments can be left at 718-935-4415.

IV.      The name, office, address, email and telephone number of the city district representative, knowledgeable on the item under consideration, from whom information may be obtained concerning the item

Name: Kim Wong

Office: Office of Portfolio Planning

Address: 52 Chambers St

Email: Portfolio@schools.nyc.gov

Phone: 212-374-5049

V.        Date, time and place of joint public hearing for this proposal.

Two joint public hearings previously took place for this proposal:

February 9 at 6:30pm

320 West 21st Street, Manhattan

and

February 8 at 6:30pm

281 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan

VI.       Date, time and place of the PEP meeting at which the Board will vote on the proposed item.

March 22, 2010
6:00pm

The Michael J. Petrides School

715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island

[1]   Parents of those P.S. 138M @ M033 students who will be moving from M033 retain all rights afforded to them under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and state law.

To and Through

Newark’s post-grad paradox: More students are entering college, but few earn degrees

PHOTO: Patrick Wall/Chalkbeat
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka wants 25 percent of residents to have college degrees by 2025, up from 19 percent today.

When it comes to college, Newark faces a good news-bad news paradox.

More students than ever are graduating high school and enrolling in college, according to a new report. Yet fewer than one in four Newark students earns a college degree within six years of graduating high school — leaving many with limited job prospects in a city where an estimated one-third of jobs require a four-year college degree.

Now, city officials are promising to build on the report. They want to ramp up the rigor of high-school classes and create more early-college programs to increase the odds of students entering college and leaving with a degree.  

“How do we teach our children to perform — to graduate?” Mayor Ras Baraka asked at a press conference Wednesday to mark the official release of the report of Newark students’ college outcomes. “We got them in the door,” he said of students who attend college. “Now how do we make them stay?”

The city’s plans, to which Superintendent Roger León is lending his support, reflect a growing recognition that simply getting students into college is not sufficient — and can even backfire if they drop out before graduation, leaving them with college debt but no degree.

Until recently, the charge given to high schools in Newark and across the country was to foster “college-going cultures.” And these efforts showed promising results: On average, 51 percent of Newark Public School students who graduated high school between 2011 and 2016 immediately enrolled in college, up from 39 percent who did so between 2004 and 2010, according to the report by the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, or NCLC, and Rutgers University-Newark’s School of Public Affairs and Administration.

But entering college didn’t guarantee its completion. Of those students who started college straight after high school, only 39 percent earned a degree within six years, the report found.

As a result, educators and policymakers have begun to think harder about how to help students “to and through” college — to ensure they actually earn degrees. Toward that end, Baraka and the NCLC — which includes roughly 40 colleges, schools, nonprofits, and corporations — has set a goal of 25 percent of Newark residents earning college degrees or comparable credentials by 2025.

Today, just 19 percent of Newark adults have associate degrees or higher — compared to 45 percent of adults across New Jersey and 40 percent nationally.

Superintendent León, who began overseeing the city’s schools on July 1, said his main strategy for supporting these efforts will be to expose students to challenging work early on.

“If we don’t do something dramatically in classrooms to improve instruction and make it rigorous,” León said after Wednesday’s event, then students are “getting into college but they’re not completing it.”

Source: “Post-Secondary Outcomes of Newark High School Graduates (2011-2016)” report. Note: The four-year rate is an average of the classes of 2011 to 2013. The six-year rate is from the class of 2011. Graphic: Sam Park/Chalkbeat

For starters, León said he wants high schools to offer more college-level classes. In the 2016-17 school year, just 21 percent of Newark students were enrolled in one or more Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes — compared to 42 percent of students statewide.

He also vowed to raise the quality of instruction in the district’s traditional high schools. Only 14 percent of their graduates earn college degrees within six years, compared to 42 percent of graduates from the city’s selective magnet schools, the report found.

To do that, León said he will create specialized academies within the traditional schools modeled on the magnets, which have specialized themes such as science, technology, or the arts. The academies, which will partner with colleges, will most likely feature admissions criteria similar to those of magnet schools, which select students based on their academic and attendance records, León added.

And, for the first time, all ninth-grade students this academic year will take the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, León said Wednesday. An additional 1,100 eighth-graders who passed at least one of their seventh-grade PARCC exams will also take the PSAT when it’s administered on Oct. 10.

Since 2016, the district has provided the PSAT to all 10th and 11th-grade students. But León said that giving the test to younger students will focus their attention on college and help identity those who are ready for advanced classes. The PSAT is designed to help students prepare for the SAT, which is used in college admissions, and to qualify for National Merit Scholarships.

The district, which was under state control for 22 years until February, is getting some assistance in its effort to improve students’ college outcomes.

For instance, KIPP, the national charter-school network with eight schools in Newark, is sharing its strategies for helping students choose the right college with guidance counselors at three district high schools.

And the higher-education institutions in the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, including Essex County College and Rutgers University-Newark, plan to create more “dual-enrollment” programs that allow high-school students to earn college credits, said NCLC Executive Director Reginald Lewis.

“We’re all going to do a better job,” Lewis said, “of making sure that once Newark residents get in our doors, that we help them persist.”

Time crunch

In victory for teachers union, Newark superintendent scraps longer hours for low-performing schools

PHOTO: Patrick Wall/Chalkbeat
Superintendent Roger León at Hawkins Street School, one of the schools that will lose its extended hours.

Newark’s new superintendent is eliminating a program that extended the hours of struggling schools, which the teachers union has long attacked as ineffective and unfair to educators.

Teachers at roughly 30 schools will no longer receive $3,000 annual stipends for the extra hours, a provision written into the current teachers contract, which extends to 2019. Instead, all 64 district schools will get extra funding for before and after-school programs, Superintendent Roger León said in an email to employees on Tuesday.

The changes will go into effect Monday, Sept. 10, resulting in new hours for the affected schools just days after the new school year began. The district is still working to adjust pickup times for students who are bused to school, according to León’s email. A few of the schools will phase out their extended hours later in the year, the email said.

“We will not continue to do the same things as before and be surprised when the results do not change,” León wrote, adding that cutting the extra hours would save the district $5 million.

In an interview with Chalkbeat Thursday, León said the move is intended to create more uniformity among schools and the services they provide. Now, all schools will get additional money to pay for programs outside of the regular school day, which schools can tailor to their individual needs, though students who are struggling academically will continue to receive “intensive” support, he said.

“Ultimately, the idea would be by October having completely different after-school and before-school programming that meets the needs of each respective school,” León said.

The extended time was first included in the teachers contract in 2012 as part of a larger improvement plan for the targeted schools, which was developed by Cami Anderson, Newark’s former state-appointed superintendent. The plan also designated some low-performing schools as “renew” schools, where teachers had to reapply for their positions and work longer hours.

Anderson also closed some schools and gave principals new hiring authority. Both actions left dozens of tenured teachers without positions, so Anderson created a fund to pay those teachers to perform support duties in schools. In 2014, that fund for “employees without placement” cost the district $35 million out of its nearly $1 billion budget, though by last year the fund had shrunk to $8 million for about 100 unassigned teachers, according to officials.

León said in Tuesday’s email that he was also eliminating the fund, which he said would save the district another $6 million. The teachers union president said he believed all the unassigned teachers now have placements, but the district did not respond to a request to confirm that.

León is also removing the “renew” and “turnaround” labels from low-performing schools, citing their “progress and student achievement,” according to the email.

“I applaud everyone’s efforts at renew or turnaround schools and acknowledge what has been accomplished,” he wrote.

Now that León has abolished his predecessors’ school-improvement program, he will be expected to create his own. Many schools remain mired in poor performance, even as the district overall has made strides in recent years.

When the teachers union agreed to the extended hours in its 2012 contract with the district, it was hailed nationally as a major breakthrough in efforts to revamp troubled schools. But even as the union agreed last year to keep the provision in its current contract, union officials have assailed the turnaround effort as a failure.

NTU President John Abeigon told Chalkbeat on Thursday that the program had been a “scam” and “nothing more than extended childcare.” He added that the stipend teachers received amounted to about $7 per hour for the extra time they worked.

In 2016, a district-commissioned survey of 787 teachers at schools with extended hours found that two-thirds of teachers at schools where the extra time was spent on student instruction said the time was valuable. But in a survey the union conducted in April, the 278 teachers who responded gave the extended hours low ratings for effectiveness in boosting student achievement.

Some teachers in the union survey praised the longer hours, saying their schools used them effectively to lengthen class periods, run after-school clubs, or allow teachers to plan lessons or review student data. But others said the extra time was squandered, leaving staff and students exhausted with little evidence of improved student outcomes to show for it. (Students’ pass rates on state tests stayed flat or declined at most “renew” schools in the first years of the program.)

The union also has complained that many teachers felt compelled to work the extra hours because those who refused to could be transferred to different schools. Under the terms of the original extended-day agreement, teachers were required to work an extra hour per day and attend trainings during the summer and some weekends.

In León’s email to employees, he said every extended-day school had set different work requirements and “none are consistent with the original design.” The longer days may also be contributing to high teacher turnover in those schools, he wrote, adding that principals of schools with regular hours told him they did not want to extend their hours.

Abeigon, the union president, applauded León’s decision to scrap the extra work hours.

“He came to the conclusion that we expected any true educator to reach: that the program was not working and was never going to work,” he said.

León said Thursday that he is now working on a new turnaround program. Once it’s ready, he promised to share the details with affected families before publicly announcing which schools are part of it — an effort to avoid the student protests that erupted when Anderson identified her “turnaround” schools.

He also said he was still considering whether he would ever close schools that fail to improve or to reverse their declining enrollments. Anderson’s decision to shutter nearly a dozen long-struggling schools continues to fuel resentment among her critics even years later.

“I think the whole idea of how much time does a school get to correct itself is a very important one and I’m going to need to be really reflective on it,” León said. “I’ve seen what closing schools does with people who do not feel that they were aware of it or a part of fixing it.”