Tag Archives: school closings

Panel votes to phase out two Queens schools, may still truncate third


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

PS-156-5w

The Panel for Educational Policy voted early Tuesday morning to close two New York City public schools and phase out 22 more, including two Queens high schools, according to reports.

The Law, Government and Community Service High School, and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School, both in Cambria Heights, will be phased out.

The phase out of another Queens school, P.S. 140 Edward K. Ellington, was withdrawn last month,  but the fate of another school in the borough still needs to be decided.

On March 20, the panel will vote on the truncation of  P.S. 156 Laurelton, which will eliminate its middle school.

 

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Students at saved Turnaround schools reflect on first day of classes


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

The first bell of the school year rang yesterday for a number of Queens high schools that were planned to lay dormant this year.

Seven schools slated for Turnaround started classes on Thursday, September 6 after a nearly year-long battle to stay open.

An arbitrator’s ruling to let all teachers keep their jobs and open the institutions this fall under their original names was upheld in State Supreme Court at the end of July. But the threat of closing by the state after this year, however, is still open if the schools don’t shape up.

Over at Long Island City High School, students lined up to review their course schedules before the start of the day.

Tenth graders Sohela Elgaramouni and Ouissal Elkharraz were happy to return to the school they knew and loved.

“We’re happy to see all our old teachers and most of the kids are still there,” said Elkharraz. “I don’t feel like a freshman again.”

But first-day jitters lingered long after dismissal for Flushing High School freshman Riana Painson.

Painson, 14, said she felt lost roaming around a new school and overwhelmed at having classrooms so far from one another.

“I felt lost, but I would have been more lost [if Turnaround happened],” Painson said.

Flushing senior Kassandra Marie said she was happy to walk into a school she was familiar with for three years, but already had one foot out the door.

“I’m used to Flushing High School already. I didn’t want to start all over again,” the 19 year old said. “But I just want to leave already, move on with my life and go to college.”

Magdalen Radovic is the current interim acting principal of Flushing High School, according to Department of Education spokesperson Marge Feinberg. But a C-30 process to find a permanent principal is in progress, she said.

Olga Perez stood outside of Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood near day’s end waiting for her granddaughter, junior Kayla Vargas, who had her first day there after transferring from a Manhattan high school.

Grover Cleveland was removed from the list of 26 city Turnaround schools hours before the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close them.

Perez’s children had gone to Grover Cleveland and she was relieved to hear the school would remain open when her granddaughter went to register.

Work still had to be done at the school, Perez said, referencing a high level of violence in the school. On the first day of school, though, she said things seemed quiet and would continue to.

“I was impressed by it,” she said. “I just hope it gets better and not worse.”

Other failed Turnaround high schools that opened its doors under the same staff and original names Thursday include Richmond Hill, Newtown, August Martin, Bryant and John Adams.

Additional reporting by Melissa Chan and Alexa Altman

Flushing introduces new principal


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Melissa Chan

The epilogue has been written for Flushing High School — but as the city concludes the final chapter of the storied 137-year-old institution, a new protagonist has entered the plot.

The Department of Education Division of Portfolio Planning hosted a meeting at Flushing High School — one day before the Panel for Educational Policy’s highly-anticipated vote — to introduce the school’s new leader, Magdalen Radovich, who will take over the reins at the embattled institution.

Radovich is currently an assistant principal at Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City, where she has served for 16 years — with half of the time spent as a teacher and the other half as an administrator.

“This has to be one of the most awkward meetings,” Radovich said to a small group of parents and students. “I don’t have all the answers. I know as little as some of you do about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day. I can promise you only that I will bring you the energy, commitment, dedication and the real belief that success is the only option for every kid, no matter what.”

Queens Vocational was on the city’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools up until recently, Radovich said. In terms of data, she said Flushing is similar to where Queens Vocational was six years ago, when the passing rate in the ninth grade was only about 50 percent — 38 percent less than its current standing.

“While we were on the PLA list, we felt kind of demoralized and stigmatized. But we knew that we had really good people who were working really hard to move us forward despite that. What really kept us moving were the kids,” Radovich said.
While similar in certain aspects, Radovich said Queens Vocational and Flushing largely differ in size, with Flushing being home to almost double the amount of students as Queens Vocational.

“You need to see things with different eyes. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t working hard. It means that a different approach needs to be implemented,” she said.

Radovich — a mother of four, including one who is a junior in high school — began teaching in 1996 after dabbling in social justice work. She was a college professor for about 10 years, teaching remedial courses at New York University, Cooper Union, Pace University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

She said she hopes to carry on some of Flushing’s successful programs in the new school.

“I don’t have anything in particular in mind at this moment because it seems to me you have an awful lot here already that needs to be looked at carefully by the community and either built up or revised, but it’s definitely something that’s a priority for me,” Radovich said.

Flushing received a “D” on its most recent progress report, with an “F” in student performance, said DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas. The school was first designated as PLA in 2009 due to its consistently low graduation rates. While the numbers rose to 60 percent in 2010, the statistics still landed Flushing in the bottom 27 percent of schools in the city.

The new school — which has yet to be named — will serve between 3,035 to 3,075 students from grades nine through twelve, according to the DOE.