Tag Archives: grover cleveland

Seven Queens high schools to close


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Seven Queens high schools had their fates sealed and doors closed by a Panel of Educational Policy (PEP) vote last night in Brooklyn.

The schools — August Martin, Bryant, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown and Richmond Hill — will close at the end of this semester and reopen in the fall under a new name with up to 50 percent new teachers.  A total of 24 schools throughout the city will be closed.

Yesterday, Grover Cleveland was one of two schools removed from the list of schools slated to close prior to the vote.

“Over the past several weeks, during public hearings and visits from my senior leadership, we looked closely at schools whose performance and quality of instruction have shown positive signs in the last two years. We have come to believe that two of those schools – Grover Cleveland High School and Bushwick Community High School – have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

The PEP is made up of five representatives chosen by the borough presidents and seven selected by the mayor.

The mayors appointees and the representative from Staten Island — which had no schools on the list — voted for the turnaround plan, the other four voted against the measure, according to published reports.

 

Grover Cleveland saved from closure


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Hours before the Panel for Educational Policy meeting to decide the fate of 26 city schools, the Department of Education removed Grover Cleveland High School from the list ensuring its survival.

Under the turnaround model the Ridgewood school would have closed and reopened under a new name with up to half the teachers being replaced. Bushwick Community High School was also removed from the list.

“Over the past several weeks, during public hearings and visits from my senior leadership, we looked closely at schools whose performance and quality of instruction have shown positive signs in the last two years. We have come to believe that two of those schools – Grover Cleveland High School and Bushwick Community High School – have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

The hearing on Monday, April 2 and the public comments given that night also played a role into the DOE’s decision to keep the school open.

“This news is a testament to the hard work of the school community, the students, parents and teachers and Principal [Denise] Vittor at Grover Cleveland,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “I was proud to stand with the community protesting the turnaround model, and I am relieved the DOE has listened to common sense and will keep the school open. We must continue to fight for the remaining schools that are still slated for closure.”

Cleveland has shown improvement in recent years raising its graduation rate and being rated proficient on the quality review.

Twenty four other schools — seven in Queens — will have their fate determined tonight at the PEP meeting in Brooklyn.

 

Thousands of Grover Cleveland supporters tell DOE to keep school open


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THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

More than 1,000 supporters packed Grover Cleveland High School’s auditorium to have their voices heard by Department of Education (DOE) officials. And as each of the more than 50 speakers stepped to the microphone, they made one thing clear — closing the school is not an option.

Grover Cleveland is one of 26 high schools on the list for Turnaround. Seven were removed from the original list of 33 on April 2.

If the Ridgewood school is turned around, it would close and reopen under a new name. The students at the school would be guaranteed a spot and half the teachers would be replaced.

“The students don’t want it, the parents don’t want it, the teachers don’t want it, the administrators don’t want it, our former principal doesn’t want it, our current principal doesn’t want it, only the DOE wants it,” said Russ Nitchman, a Grover Cleveland science teacher.

The DOE held a hearing at the school on Monday, April 2 to allow public comment on the proposed Turnaround.

“This evening is not a decision point,” said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “We’re here to hear the voices of the community.”

Parents, students, teachers, former teachers and alumni all spoke, extolling the school’s place as their second home.

“It was Cleveland that helped give me a wide variety of experiences. I got to sing and dance, I wasn’t very good, I said I better be a politician,” said alumna and Assemblymember Cathy Nolan. “There were wonderful things here that gave me opportunity; opportunity to learn who I was.”

A steady stream of students stepped to the mic to relay stories of the teachers at the school changing their lives.

“The very staff that got us to this point is in jeopardy,” said Geline Canayon, a senior at the school and the student association president.

“Students are anxious and upset at the prospect of losing their favorite teacher, scrambling to get college recommendations before their teachers are forced out,” said Brian Gavin, the union rep at the school. “Concerned that during their all important senior and junior years they will have teachers that are inexperienced, don’t know them and their community leaving them unprepared for college and their careers.”

The fervent speakers’ zeal often carried them well past their two minute allotment during the more than three-and-a-half-hour meeting.

“It is time for Mayor Bloomberg to take his incompetent staff and get out of Ridgewood and leave the business of education to educators,” bellowed Arthur Goldstein, who came from Francis Lewis High School, where he is the school’s union rep to lend his support.

“I’m going to make a simple request, take Grover Cleveland off the list of turnaround schools,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo. “It’s not only an emotional request, it’s a fact based request.”

On its most recent DOE progress report Cleveland received a C, a year after earning a B. The graduation rate was 58 percent last year, seven points below the city wide average.

The high school was entered into the restart program in September which qualified it for School Improvement Grants (SIG), but because the UFT and DOE failed to come to an agreement on teacher evaluations, the money dried up and put Cleveland in line for Turnaround.

The restart model is meant for schools to receive support to improve and not be closed.

Had the two sides reached an agreement, the school would have continued its course in the restart program, a DOE spokesperson said.

“There is no educational justification for what the Department of Education is trying to do to you,” said Leo Casey, UFT vice president for high schools. “There is only one reason why such an educationally invalid step has been taken here, and that is because it serves the political agenda of Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg.”

As the hearing wound down at approximately 9:30 p.m. more than 100 supporters remained to make certain their comments were made public record.

“We teach our students that democracy works,” said teacher Donald Zigler. “Keep Cleveland open; the people have spoken.”

The final vote on the school’s future is scheduled for April 26.

 

Grover Cleveland High School Protests Turnaround


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THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Students and faculty gathered outside Grover Cleveland High School to tell the mayor not to “turn” his back on their school.

The Ridgewood high school currently sits on the list of high schools to be “turned around,” which involves the closure and immediate reopening of the school under a different name, along with the replacement of the principal and 50 percent of the teachers.

Over 200 members of the school’s community took to the streets surrounding the school, marching and brandishing signs calling for people to dial 3-1-1 to protest the school’s potential closing.

“Bloomberg doesn’t know anything about the school,” said science teacher Russ Nitchman, calling the threat of a turnaround a “political hissyfit” from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As the protest made its way to Metropolitan Avenue, passing cars honked their support for the protest.

Senior class president Diana Rodriguez is worried about the effect the turnaround would have on the students that will remain at the school next year.

“We have such a bond with these teachers, to just ruin that, get rid of 50 percent of the staff, it’s going to have a negative effect,” she said.

“There is a sense of home, here for the kids,” said English teacher Elizabeth Clark, who graduated from the school. “The kids need that safe haven.”

A vote will be held later this year to determine the fate of the 33 schools designated for turnaround.

“This entire community is here supporting Grover Cleveland and unfortunately the mayor’s plan never takes any of that into account,” said Queens UFT representative James Vazquez. “Moving people around and playing with numbers is the only solution [the city] ever has.”