City plans to close three struggling boro schools

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

The city earlier this week announced it plans to phase out and replace three Queens schools.

The city Department of Education identified South Jamaica’s Edward K. Ellington School (PS 140) as well as two Campus Magnet high schools — Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship and Law, Government and Community Service — in Cambria Heights for phase-out.

Ellington received an F on its most recent progress report, and the two high schools each received a D.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the department decided the schools required immediate action after evaluating their records.

“We expect success. After a rigorous review of academic performance, we’re proposing to phase out a select number of low-performing schools,” he said. “We’ve listened to the community and provided comprehensive support services to these schools based on their needs. Ultimately, we know we can better serve our students and families with new options and a new start.”

The department also announced it planned to eliminate the eighth-grade from PS 156 in Laurelton.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), a candidate for borough president this year, said the schools were performing poorly because the DOE did not give them the proper support.

“The proposed closings of Law, Government and Community Service High School, PS 140 and PS 156 shows how this administration has refused to listen to reason when it comes to our children’s education,” he said. “Before the administration imposed their policies, Law, Government and Community Service High School was one of the best schools in the city. It was, in fact, so good that the Department of Education asked them to take in more students. While they took in more students, they were not given the additional resources needed to educate the new students.”

The DOE will issue an educational impact statement outlining the specifics of each school’s plan and hold public meetings at the schools ahead of the March 11 meeting of the city Panel for Educational Policy — a body appointed mostly by the mayor, which has always sided with his policies.

The panel caused an uproar last year when it voted to close seven Queens high schools, a proposal the courts later ruled violated union contracts.

One of the schools the PEP voted to close, Flushing High School, was on a list with JHS 8 Richard S. Grossley and IS 59 Springfield Gardens of schools the city identified as struggling last year, but chose not to phase out.

The department said it would continue to work with these schools, but the most severe intervention it is considering now would be a change in leadership.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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