The Queens Gazette investigates the Department of Education's classification of Long Island City High School, along with many others, as a "Turnaround" school, which would require the school to close and rehire 50% of the staff before reopening. Senator Gianaris believes that negotions need to continue in order to avoid hurting students as the city tries to improve schools.
At a meeting January 24 in the auditorium of Long Island City H.S. in attendance believed they were fighting for the school’s existence, as they know it. LIC HS, at 14th Street and Broadway in Astoria, is one of 33 high schools in the city facing possibly radical changes. The school has been judged chronically deficient in student achievement and had been designated by the city Department of Education (DOE) as being in a state known as Transformation.
Another consequence of failure to reach agreement was the DOE’s move to reexamine the status of 33 schools, LIC HS among them. All had been classified Transformation or Restart. But in a January 12 letter to State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., many copies of which were distributed at the meeting, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he was reclassifying 27 of those schools, LIC HS again among them, to Turnaround, just above the lowest status, Phase-out and Closing. Turnaround classification would require closing of each school and rehiring 50 percent of its staff before reopening. The chancellor also informed the commissioner that he would apply for Turnaround at another six schools that were outside the SIG model, bringing the total back to 33 schools.
The six remaining schools would retain Transformation status because, according to Walcott, DOE would use “existing funds from non-SIG sources” to keep them at that level, even though, according to Walcott, two of those six schools have already been proposed for phase-out.
At the time of the meeting, Commissioner King had not replied to Chancellor Walcott, but everyone in attendance assumed the worst. State Senator Michael Gianaris told attendees that he was sick of seeing school students used as pawns in a battle between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the DOE on one side and the UFT on the other. He said he was a Long Island City HS graduate and got an education there good enough to prepare him for eventual entrance into Harvard Law School. His message to DOE and UFT: “Get your butts back in the room” and complete negotiations.
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