Long Island City High School wouldn’t mind a new technology and careers program, but doesn’t want the second administration that would come with a co-location of a separate school. Yet, the Department of Education is planning to do just that.
The DOE has proposed adding a career and technical school inside the once struggling institution starting next fall.
Teachers, Community Education Council members and parents from three districts including LIC’s District 30 gathered on the steps of the DOE’s office on Tuesday to protest such a plan.
“We would love to have the program, but let’s find a simpler way,” CEC 30 Co-President Isaac Carmignani said.
The CEC wants the DOE to retool its proposal and include more community input, which the education council said the initial plan lacks.
Carmignani said adding another principal and assistant principal for the proposed 100-student school would be a waste of money, as the school already has a competent administration that could run the program.
“That’s a few $100,000 for starters,” said Ken Achiron, the United Federation of Teachers chapter leader who has taught at LIC High School since 1978. “Why are we getting a second administration?”
He agrees that adding a career-focused program would be better than a new school, saying with just a program the existing school would have more control over which classrooms would be used, allowing it to better manage an already crowded school.
Despite concerns of crowding the DOE noted that LIC High School’s enrollment has decreased by 10 percent since the 2007-08 school year.
A new school could be a way to entice students.
“Our track record creating new Career and Technical Education schools is historic,” DOE Spokesman Devon Puglia said. “After decades without any new CTE options, we’ve created dozens of new ones with all kinds of career focuses. Students flock to them, parents clamor for them, and this area needs one. We’re delivering.”
The Panel of Educational Policy, which votes on such matters citywide, is scheduled to make a decision in October, but the CEC has asked it be pushed back to December.
“I don’t think it’s going to be fair,” said Ka-Trina Harris, a parent with a sophomore at LIC and a member of the Parent Teacher Association at her daughter’s school, PS 111. “Are they going to get to apply for the new school? I think our kids are going to get jerked around.”
Harris said she would give the “benefit of the doubt” that adding a program would be beneficial, but disagrees with co-locating a whole new school.
In 2012, the city attempted to close seven Queens schools, including LIC High School, because of poor performance and graduation rates. At the close of summer school this year the graduation rate had risen from 50 percent to 61, Achiron said.
“We have spent two years recovering,” he said. “To put another school in the building is to push us backwards in terms of our success rate.”