Last month, the city Department of Education faced a barrage of anger and frustration from parents, teachers and union officials over the closing or co-locating of more than 100 schools citywide.
Now, as the changes agreed to by the Panel for Education Policy in last month’s two vociferous meetings begin implementation, the DOE is promoting its plans, including the opening of dozens of schools across the city.
In September, 78 new schools will welcome their first students, including 15 in Queens.
The new schools include two elementary schools: East Elmhurst Community School in East Elmhurst and Elm Tree Elementary School in Elmhurst; middle school Corona Arts and Sciences Academy in Corona; Hawtree Creek Middle School in South Ozone Park; the Emerson School in St. Albans; Queens United Middle School in Jamaica Estates; Hunters Point Community Middle School in the new Hunters Point South development and Middle Village Prep Charter School, which will operate in Christ the King Regional High School’s campus in Middle Village.
The rest of the list will include The Riverview School, a District 75 middle and high school; three new high schools, including the International High School for Health Sciences at Newtown High School; Veritas Academy and the Queens High School for Language Studies, both in Flushing High School’s campus.
Two career & technical education high schools will open: Health Professions in Cambria Heights, which will be located in the Campus Magnet Complex, and Energy Tech High School in Long Island City. A new transfer high school, Voyages Prep, will also open at August Martin High School in South Jamaica.
Sara Goodman, the proposed leader for the Hunters Point Community Middle School — the title given to the incoming principal of a school before it opens — said she hopes to integrate the location of her school into the curriculum.
With its site near the confluence of the East River and Newtown Creek, she is planning to focus strongly on environmental issues, especially pertaining to urban settings. She is eyeing projects such as like water testing and studying the design of the building and the Hunters Point South development, which the city boasts is a sustainable project.
“That will give us an ongoing learning lab as to what urban development looks like,” she explained.
The school will eventually serve grades six through eight, and will welcome its first sixth grade class in September. Goodman said the school will boast a strong advisory program with students matched to an advisor and a group of 12 to 15 other students with common interests.
“We think it’s going to be an amazing model for middle school students,” she said.
Goodman, a 16-year veteran of the New York City school system, said she believes this is the right city to educate students in.
“I’m very dedicated to urban education,” she said. “I really feel the most exciting education developments are in New York City.”
A mile or so north, the new Energy Tech High School is slated to open with 108 new ninth-graders in the fall in JHS 204’s Long Island City campus.
The school will serve grades nine through 14, meaning it will be a place for students to not only get a high school diploma, but also the start of a college education.
“It’s a very unique high school,” said Hope Barter, the school’s proposed leader.
The school was created through a collaboration between the DOE and energy companies.. The school has been colloquially named “The Con Ed High School” by some parents of JHS 204 students and community members. The aim is to prepare students for a career in a tech industry and allow them to graduate with the equivalent of both a high school degree and an associate degree.
“We’re looking very specifically at tech jobs that are hard to fill,” Barter explained. “We’re working with college faculty, industry professionals, to work on building what that six-year scope of classes will be.”
Barter, who was a founding teacher of the York Early College Academy in Jamaica, has also taught in India and Nepal.
“It was so inspirational to me to see how even the smallest investment in education and development can be life changing,” she said of her experiences.
Energy Tech will host an information session for prospective students on April 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
Some of the 15 new schools, including new co-located high schools at Newtown and Flushing, as well as the closure of one of Campus Magnet’s schools, were met with controversy.
Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens’ representative on the PEP, opposed those changes at last month’s meeting.
“While I commend the mayor for opening new schools in newly designed buildings, some of these new schools were created because he either chose to co-locate charter schools in traditional public schools’ space or he decided to close and phase out some of our struggling schools,” he said. “I’m all for creating options, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of existing schools, and there needs to be more focus on supporting some of our struggling traditional public schools with a defined plan of action so that we are fixing what’s wrong and not always starting over.”
Opponents allege the co-locations were a backdoor attempt by the DOE to phase out the schools after a plan to do so failed last summer when an arbitrator ruled it illegal and a court agreed.