Re(new)al schools

New York City plans to close, shrink, or merge these 19 schools into other schools

PHOTO: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The New York City education department plans to close 14 low-performing schools at the end of the academic year, officials announced Monday. You can read much more about those changes — and why they’re significant moves for Mayor Bill de Blasio — here.

Here’s the full list of changes the city is proposing.

The nine Renewal schools the city plans to close:

  • P.S. 50 Vito Marcantonio (Manhattan, District 4)
  • Coalition School for Social Change (Manhattan, District 4)
  • High School for Health Careers and Sciences (Manhattan, District 6)
  • New Explorers High School (Bronx, District 7)
  • Urban Science Academy (Bronx, District 9)
  • P.S. 92 Bronx School (Bronx, District 12)
  • Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School (Brooklyn, District 23)
  • P.S./M.S. 42 R. Vernam (Queens, District 27)
  • M.S. 53 Brian Piccolo (Queens, District 27)

The five other schools the city plans to close:

  • KAPPA IV (Manhattan, District 5)
  • Academy for Social Action (Manhattan, District 5)
  • Felisa Rincon de Gautier Institute (Bronx, District 8)
  • Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation (Bronx, District 12)
  • Eubie Blake School (Brooklyn, District 16)

The schools the city plans to merge into others:

  • Holcombe L. Rucker School of Community (Bronx, District 8), becoming part of Longwood Preparatory Academy, another Renewal school
  • Entrada Academy (Bronx, District 12) into Accion Academy
  • Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies (Brooklyn, District 18) into East Flatbush Community and Research School
  • Middle school grades of Gregory Jocko Jackson School (Brooklyn, District 23) into Brownsville Collaborative Middle School

Other changes:

  • Wadleigh Secondary School for The Performing Visual Arts (Manhattan, District 3) will no longer serve middle school students. It will start a plan “to transform Wadleigh into one of New York City’s top audition arts high schools,” according to the city.

The schools that will “graduate” from the Renewal program for showing improvements, gaining the designation of “Rise” school:

  • P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente (Manhattan, District 1)
  • Orchard Collegiate Academy (Manhattan, District 1)
  • Renaissance School of the Arts (Manhattan, District 4)
  • I.S. 528 Bea Fuller Rodgers School (Manhattan, District 6)
  • P.S. 154 Jonathan D. Hyatt (Bronx, District 7)
  • Bronx Early College Academy for Teacher and Learning (Bronx, District 9)
  • DreamYard Preparatory School (Bronx, District 9)
  • J.H.S. 80 The Mosholu Parkway (Bronx, District 10)
  • The Bronx School of Young Leaders (Bronx, District 10)
  • Urban Scholars Community School (Bronx, District 12)
  • P.S. 67 Charles A. Dorsey (Brooklyn, District 13)
  • J.H.S. 50 John D. Wells (Brooklyn, District 14)
  • Ebbets Field Middle School (Brooklyn, District 17)
  • East Flatbush Community Research School (Brooklyn, District 18)
  • Brooklyn Generation School (Brooklyn, District 18)
  • P.S. 328 Phyllis Wheatley (Brooklyn, District 19)
  • Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory (Brooklyn, District 19)
  • Pan American International High School (Queens, District 24)
  • P.S. 197 The Ocean School (Queens, District 27)
  • J.H.S. 8 Richard S. Grossley (Queens, District 28)
  • John Adams High School (Queens, District 27)

Big money

Chunk of $55 million AbbVie gift will go toward more counselors in schools

PHOTO: Courtesy of Communities in Schools
Counselors in Schools site coordinator Artesha Williams and student Nasje Adams at the King Academy of Social Justice in Chicago

Sixteen more Chicago schools will add full-time counselors charged with reducing dropouts and helping students with critical mental health issues, thanks to a chunk of a $55 million donation gift from a North Chicago pharmaceutical giant.

The AbbVie donation, announced Friday, will be split among three nonprofit groups with a Chicago presence, though not all the money will be spent here. Communities in Schools will receive $30 million for its national efforts to broker relationships between community organizations and schools; the University of Chicago’s Education Lab, which focuses on dropout prevention and college persistence, will receive $15 million; and City Year, which places AmeriCorps tutors and mentors in schools, will receive $10 million.

Communities in Schools, which received the largest gift, will spend $6 million of its $30 million on its Chicago chapter, while the City Year money will be split among Chicago and a project in San Jose, California.

Jane Mentzinger, the executive director of Communities in Schools Chicago, said the $6 million is “transformational” and will be spent on a program that assigns full-time, master’s-level counselors to public schools on the South and West sides.

The AbbVie gift will grow a program that currently places full-time counselors in 15 Chicago schools, adding five schools this year and another 11 next fall.

“In each school, they case manage the 50 highest-need students who are at risk of falling behind and dropping out,” said Mentzinger. “They really work with students is to help resolve conflict, regulate emotions, and provide exposure opportunities, from support and mentoring to counseling.”  

The counselor piece helps fill a dire need within Chicago’s schools: mental health and trauma services. Students, educators, parents, and union leaders regularly lament that the district does not staff enough counselors and mental health practitioners, and that recent efforts have been too focused on college and career-readiness — including helping students draft a post-secondary plan. Starting with the Class of 2020, seniors must produce such a plan to graduate, a controversial idea championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In July, Chicago schools CEO Janice Jackson announced that the district would hire some 250 new social workers and special education case managers for schools.

Mentzinger said the value of sending in counselors who are employed by an outside agency, and not by the district, is that they have fewer administrative duties and so can cast a “wider net” among master’s degree candidates who might have non-traditional degrees such as art therapy or dance. “The level of need of our kids — we need to have more layers, more layers of work.”

A recent Steinmetz High School graduate, Emily Jade Aguilar, told Chalkbeat on Election Day that she was knocking on doors to get out the vote. Aguilar, who identifies as a trans woman, said the biggest issue driving her activism was mental health for students. “We need more mental health resources in our schools,” said Aguilar, whose school had four counselors for 1,200 students last year.

According to federal data from the 2015-16 school year, Chicago had 2.8 guidance counselors, social workers, and psychologists for every 1,000 students — fewer than in many other large cities. National guidance counselors and social workers groups recommend having one counselor and one social worker each for every 250 students. In schools with “intensive” needs, that ratio falls to one social worker for every 50 students.

In addition to providing counselors, Communities in Schools brokers relationships between nonprofit organizations and 160 schools to provide art and enrichment, mental health services, health care and college and career readiness programming.

snow fallout

From stalled buses to canceled programs, New York City schools are bearing brunt of snow storm

PHOTO: Guillermo Murcia / Getty Images
A school bus on Dekalb avenue in Fort Greene Brooklyn during a snow storm.

Parents, students, and teachers are dealing with the fallout of Thursday’s snowstorm, which stranded yellow buses for hours, created brutal commutes, and forced teachers to stay late for parent conferences.

Just before 9 a.m. Friday, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced all after-school programs would be cancelled, sending families scrambling to make arrangements. And perhaps anticipating yet another wave of yellow-bus related problems, all field trips involving buses were also cancelled.

Some parents and educators took to social media to vent about the city’s response.

Emergency responders were dispatched to free five children with special needs who had been trapped on a school bus for 10 hours, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos. Traveling from Manhattan to the Bronx, students didn’t make it home until “well after midnight,” Kallos said in a statement. The councilman has sponsored legislation to require GPS tracking on yellow buses after the school year began with horror stories about long, circuitous routes. Many riders are children with special needs who travel to programs outside their neighborhoods.

The education department did not immediately respond to questions about the timing of their decision to cancel after-school programs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would conduct a”full operational review of what happened,” referring to the city’s response to the storm. “We have to figure out how to make adjustments when we have only a few hours but this was—I hate to use this hackneyed phrase—but this was kind of a perfect storm: late information, right up on rush hour, and then a particularly fast, heavy kind of snow.”

The politics of snow-related closures are challenging, forcing city leaders to balance concerns about safety with the needs of working families, who may struggle to make arrangements for emergency childcare.

Snow-day related cancellations have bedeviled previous chancellors; in one famous incident, former Chancellor Carmen Fariña and de Blasio kept schools open despite a forecast of 10 inches of snow. The next day, Fariña proclaimed it was “a beautiful day.”

Still, the de Blasio administration is much more likely to cancel school in response to snow than his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

Christina Veiga contributed.