Parents, teachers and students at an embattled Flushing school are fighting to keep the city out of their space.
Scores of supporters gathered at Flushing High School to have their voices heard by the Department of Education (DOE) during an agency-hosted public hearing on February 28.
The city plans to add a small district high school and a Chinese bilingual school inside the storied institution. The two new schools would share the building — including the gym, cafeteria and auditorium — with Flushing High School students.
“Our goal is to create a system of great schools that prepare all students for college,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “Designed to meet the needs of individual communities, our new, small schools have delivered resounding results.”
Math teacher Jessica Dimech said the proposal was just another blow to the struggling school after the city unsuccessfully tried closing it less than a year ago.
“You gave us another six months with a stacked deck [and] cut our funding,” said Dimech, also a member of the school’s leadership team. “The DOE time and time again pulls the carpet from underneath us. Please just let me do my job.”
The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) is largely expected to vote in favor of the proposal on March 11, sources said. The panel supported the city’s attempt to shutter dozens of city schools last April before a court order reversed the approval.
But the Queens representative on the panel, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, said he would vote against the plans.
“Enough is enough. Flushing High School doesn’t want to be part of a chance experiment,” he said.
According to Juan Mendez, superintendent of Queens high schools, the change would decrease enrollment by 850 students at the crowded school. Flushing would take in fewer incoming freshman under the plan.
There is also a proposal to place an international school, serving English language learners, inside Newtown High School in Elmhurst. The new institution would prepare recently arrived immigrant students for college.
Newtown improved from a “C” to a “B” on its last DOE progress report. Flushing received a “D” in the last two years, recently failing both student progress and performance.
Flushing High freshman Stephanie Kouboulas vouched for “the best teachers” at the school as she broke down in tears.
“You want us just to fade out into the dust and never be here,” said Kouboulas, 14. “Flushing High School has been here a long time. It shouldn’t go anywhere.”
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