By Sarina Trangle
Queens elected officials cheered Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to transform 94 of the city’s — and 12 of Queens’ — worst performing schools by adding an hour of instruction, bolstering professional development and boosting mental health and social services at the campuses.
The mayor described his so-called School Renewal program Monday as a reversal of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s strategy of closing down or phasing out schools.
“We believe in strong public schools for every child. Getting there means moving beyond the old playbook and investing the time, energy and resources to partner with communities and turn struggling schools around,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’ll give them the tools, the leadership, and the support they need to succeed — and we’ll hold them accountable for delivering higher achievement.”
Under the plan, the city Department of Education will spread a $150 million investment across the 94 targeted schools, 12 of which are in Queens, for an added hour of daily instruction, improved academic interventions, increased staff training, and in some cases, the creation of after-school, summer and weekend learning initiatives. Each school will be matched with at least one community organization and full-time resource coordinator to connect pupils and parents with optometrists, dentists, mentors, mental health professionals and other services.
The campuses will develop individual renewal plans by spring 2015, and the DOE will track the schools’ progress towards goals over the next three years. Those that do not meet standards may have their leaders replaced, faculty change-ups or be broken up into smaller academies, closed or replaced, de Blasio said.
The targeted schools in Queens include: PS/MS 42, MS 53, PS 197, JHS 8, PS 111 and the Pan American International, Flushing, Martin Van Buren, August Martin, Richmond Hill, John Adams and Long Island City high schools.
State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who serve as chairs of their legislative chambers’ education committees, both heralded the plan.
“It is important that schools be given the resources and the assistance to renew their commitment to students, parents, teachers, administrators and communities. This plan is a balanced attempt to do that,” Nolan said in a statement.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.