When the Panel for Educational Policy approved the co-location of Success Academy New York 4 with Brooklyn’s J.H.S. 78 last October, parents said they were upset but confident that Mayor Bill de Blasio would kill the plan.
“We’ll be back in January with the new mayor,” J.H.S. 78 parent Thomas Callahan said then.
It’s a few months later than Callahan anticipated, but the city soon find out if he was correct. Decisions about that and dozens of other pending school changes are expected to be announced soon, following de Blasio’s and Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s promises that plans approved at the end of the Bloomberg administration would be subject to a full review.
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Officials won’t say exactly what window of the Bloomberg administration’s recent decisions they’re examining, so we’ve gathered them all in one place. You can check out the details in this spreadsheet, which we’ve also embedded below.
All in all, the Panel for Educational Policy has approved more than 60 space plans for 2014-15 and five for 2015-16.
Where might the changes come? Here are the most likely possibilities, given the de Blasio administration’s emphasis on maintaining stability for families — and keeping Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz on the defensive.
- Twenty-seven of the remaining proposals focus on plans for charter schools. While the de Blasio administration has said charter schools should not be entitled to free space in public buildings the way that they essentially were under Bloomberg, it’s unlikely that it would take a sweeping approach to rolling back charter school proposals. Both de Blasio and Fariña have said repeatedly that charter schools vary in their quality and commitment to serve all students.
- De Blasio has reserved special scorn for Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies, which are the focus of 10 of the recently approved plans, including nine new schools: seven elementary, two middle schools, and one high school. She told board members this week she thinks a few of those plans will be rolled back.
- Five of the proposals would put elementary and high school students in the same building, an arrangement to which parents in particular tend to object out of safety concerns. (In some of those buildings, the arrangement is already in place.) Four of the new elementary-high school mashups would involve charter schools managed by networks that would likely have to pay rent under de Blasio’s proposal: Success Academy, KIPP, and Achievement First.
- Critics of the de Blasio administration’s promise to reevaluate co-location plans say families are already counting on the new school options for their children. But at more than half of the schools with plans on the table, no students currently expect to attend. At least 35 schools among those affected by the plans have neither admitted students for this fall nor have any students operating under the presumption that they will be able to graduate from one school and start the next grade at the new, connected school.
- Seven of the proposals would end with school buildings holding a 100 percent or more of the students they are designed for, according to the Department of Education’s own numbers. Packing buildings to — or past — their gills would work against the de Blasio administration’s stated aim to to reduce overcrowding and help schools cut class size. This week, the Department of Education also announced a plan to overhaul the way available space is calculated, suggesting that the new administration thinks the old one’s crowding estimates might be conservative.
- Seven of the plans drew unusually sharp public criticism, with more than 300 people turning out for their joint public hearings last year. At each of those hearings, the vast majority of public comment was critical. At one hearing, for the proposed co-location of Success Academy – New York 4, more than 700 people turned out to express their concerns. If the de Blasio administration is serious about responding to public feedback, rolling back these proposals would be a way to show it.
- Co-location plans for at least two of schools (Success Academy – New York 5 and a new district middle school in District 18 in Brooklyn) earned special censure at public hearings from emissaries of de Blasio himself. Rolling those plans back would allow him to make good on his stances as the city’s public advocate.
- Of the 66 plans approved for this year or next, 61 were approved in June 2013 or later. Forty-eight were approved in or after October 2013. It’s possible that de Blasio will only revisit proposals made after a certain point, though he has not indicated whether that is the case.
- Five of the plans would not take effect until September 2015 — nearly two years after they were first approved. Scrapping these plans now and reevaluating them later in the year would cost the de Blasio administration little.
- While de Blasio has been critical of the Bloomberg administration’s emphasis on closing and co-locating schools, he has praised the new P-TECH, the high school with a six-year program that partners with CUNY and IBM and allows students to earn an associate’s degree. Two new high schools would follow the P-TECH model, making a change less likely—though there was still significant pushback from the schools that will be co-located with the new ones.
- More generally, nine of the plans are for new high schools operated by the Department of Education. The city’s regular high school admissions process wraps up with notifications in the next two weeks, so if any changes are going to be made, that has to happen soon.
You can see all of the details for every plan that the de Blasio administration could possibly be reconsidering in our chart below. A few additional notes: We’ve excluded the few plans on the agenda for this March, since the de Blasio administration has made its plans for those schools clear. We also excluded plans approved last year that already went into place for the 2013-14 school year and plans that were taken off the table by the schools themselves after being approved. Also unlikely to be revisited, though we’ve included them here, are five proposals to cut grades and one proposal to add grades in a school with its own building, since those have been uncontroversial and don’t impact other schools. Did we mis-tally or miss something altogether? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.