By Bill Parry
Defenders of Long Island City High School are applauding a decision by the city Department of Education to shelve a controversial plan that would have reduced enrollment over the next four years to make room for a career and technical education school.
The co-location plan was one of nine school proposals made by the Bloomberg administration that were withdrawn last week following a review by new city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
“The previous administration handed over these proposals and we have had to review all of them under inflexible deadlines,” Fariña said. “As enrollment deadlines approach, we considered the thousands of families that could be affected. We were deliberate in our decisions and, under the circumstances we inherited, believe this is the best approach.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), a graduate of LIC HS, has led the fight against the plan for the last three years. His rally at the school in October drew hundreds of angry students and their parents, who declared the long-struggling school had improved in recent years.
“This is a win for all of us in the community, but most of all for the students who only want the resources they deserve to receive a proper education,” Gianaris said.
State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood), chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, had feared that many of the school’s programs and extracurricular activities would have to be sacrificed as part of the co-location plan.
“This is a victory for parents, students and our local community, which advocated for the school,” Nolan said. “Future generations of local kids will benefit from Long Island City HS’saward-winning Career and Technical Culinary Arts Program as well as the sports teams, academic support and full programs. Our kids will have their local school.”
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), a graduate of nearby Bryant HS, had praise for the new chancellor.
“I am proud to join parents, teachers, students and fellow elected officials in thanking Chancellor Fariña and the DOE for listening to our community’s concerns and putting an end to the destructive proposal,” she said.
The DOE is proposing to move the technical school to the Murry Bergtraum campus in Manhattan. Gianaris is a proponent of such technical schools so long as they do not take up space and resources at his alma mater.
“It’s unfortunate that the school won’t stay in western Queens, but once Cornell NYC Tech opens on Roosevelt Island, maybe we’ll get some tech schools but without hurting the students at Long Island City High School,” Gianaris said.
Elsewhere, the de Blasio administration also rejected a co-location plan that would have moved a Success Academy charter school into August Martin HS in Jamaica.
“If there’s one thing school communities should know, it’s this: We’re going to do things differently,” Fariña said. “We are turning the page on the approach of the past. We are going to listen and be responsive like never before, and that will be reflected in everything we do.”
After his prolonged battle with the DOE, Gianaris said, “It seems like the first two months they’re operating differently than the last administration.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.