A city proposal to move Cambria Heights Academy from Hollis and co-locate it in IS 59 in Springfield Gardens has garnered the ire of parents, students and legislators who say the move will be highly disruptive to a group of pupils who work well where they are now.
“We don’t want to go there, and the 59 people don’t want us there,” said Garfield Clark, whose son attends the academy.
Clark said he and Parent Teacher Association leaders from IS 59, which includes students in sixth through eighth grade, plan on protesting the move at the Panel for Educational Policy’s March meeting. The city filed its official paperwork to make the move last week, and the PEP is expected to vote on it at its April meeting.
Cambria Heights Academy, which focuses on technology, opened two years ago in a former Catholic school. The city Department of Education has said it is looking to move the school because its current site would be expensive to renovate.
“The DOE proposal lacks long-term vision and planning,” said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Borough President Helen Marshall’s appointee to the PEP. “High schools should be in high school settings.”
Cambria Heights students would take the space being vacated by Eagle Academy, which is moving because it outgrew the room allocated for it at IS 59. The IS 59 community had also objected to Eagle moving in.
“We told them Eagle Academy was going to outgrow their space at IS 59, and they did within three years,” Fedkowskyj said. “The same will happen to Cambria Heights High School.”
Cambria Heights has students in ninth and tenth grades but will grow to include 10th, 11th and 12th grades.
The city had proposed moving Cambria Heights into JHS 72 in Rochdale Village, but decided on IS 59 after a backlash from students, parents and educators. While parents said IS 59 is preferable to JHS 72, they said it would be better for their students to remain in their current building.
“It’s going to destroy the camaraderie, inventiveness and synergy that they’ve already built there in a small school environment,” Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said. “I’ve never understood the DOE’s position. They’re just being cheap.”