Two Far Rockaway renewal schools to be closed

PS/MS 42 Robert Vernam School (top); MS 53 Brian Piccolo Middle School (bottom)
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By Naeisha Rose

Two schools in the Rockaways are among the 14 New York City schools scheduled for closure, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced Monday. A Bronx school where one student was stabbed to death, and another injured was also to be terminated.

The Brian Piccolo Middle School (MS 53) and the Robert Vernam School (PS/MS 42) are the two renewal schools in Queens on the chopping block, according to the chancellor.

Piccolo is located at 10-45 Naemoke St. in Far Rockaway and Vernam is at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne.

Schools under the renewal program slated to be closed received funding to help them improve, but failed to show any sustainable progress, according to Farina.

The schools that were closed had a combination of poor test scores, enrollment, college readiness, attendance, and classroom instruction as well as school leadership, according to an analysis by the city’s Department of Education. Those schools’ also had chronic absenteeism.

Fariña determined students would be served better by attending a stronger or higher performing school.

The Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx, a school on the renewal list, which had a student who was fatally stabbed to death, another sent to the hospital and a third arrested, was among the 14 proposed to be shutdown.

City Council Education Committee Chairman Daniel Dromm’s office (D-Jackson Heights) cited reports from student witnesses that blamed the stabbing on anti-gay bullying episodes that were not addressed by the school administration.

Despite the closures, four schools in Queens that were on the renewal list and made small, but steady gains will be among the Rise School Program, according to the DOE. These schools met 67 percent of their benchmark in improving test scores, attendance, and college readiness, and will receive less renewal resources going forward.

The Pan American International High School (Elmhurst), Ocean School Elementary (Far Rockaway), Richard S. Grossley Junior High School (Jamaica) and John Adams High School (Ozone Park) are the four Rise schools in the borough, according to the DOE.

“We’re not giving up,” said Fariña. “We are just tweaking a little bit about where the support is needed.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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