These bulldogs are not ready to go down without a fight.
School officials, students, community members and local elected officials gathered in the auditorium of Long Island City High School, home of the Bulldogs and referred to as “LIC,” on October 23 during a public hearing to voice their opposition to the Department of Education’s (DOE) proposal to co-locate a new school within the building.
The DOE’s Panel for Education Policy is expected to vote on the proposal that would open a new Career and Technical (CTE) high school in the 14-30 Broadway building by September 2014.
Students, with faces painted with the school’s colors and holding signs that read “We are LIC, One team, One Family,” rallied against the co-location before heading into the hearing.
“I consider LIC my home away from home,” said Irving Torres, LIC High School senior and student member of District 30’s Community Education Council (CEC). “I will not stand by as I watch my home be attacked by this proposal.”
If the proposal is approved, students of LIC High School and P.S. 993, a special needs District 75 school currently located in the building, would have to share their space with the new school. Students fear this will bring cuts to their beloved AP courses and extracurricular activities.
In order to make room for the incoming ninth grade class, the DOE will make enrollment cuts at LIC High School beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.
The high school, which currently has 2,524 enrollees, will have around 2,000 students by the 2017-2018 school year.
“They have yet to tell us who besides the chancellor and the mayor want this,” said Ken Achiron, a teacher at LIC High School for 25 years and chapter leader for the United Federation of Teachers. “The reality is it’s some children first, certain children always, but LIC children never.”
In the proposal, the DOE said the school has received an overall “C” grade for three consecutive years on its progress reports and enrollment cuts are only in response to what has already been occurring at the school for years through diminishing student sign up. However, those opposed said the new principal, Vivian Selenikas, has been taking the school on the right path to success and the co-location would only take away from the school’s achievements.
“I’m not going to let them take away my school,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who graduated from LIC High School in 1986. “The last thing we need is a new school dropped in here that no one has asked for.”
The high school was in danger of closing last year when officials put it on a Turnaround list alongside Flushing High School and 22 other city schools.
“It seems to me that every time our school achieves success, the DOE finds a way to combat it,” said Divya Ramdath, president of LIC High School’s student organization. “LIC has a future, only if the DOE allowed it.”
The DOE did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.