Published: December 4, 2008
Department of Education officials informed teachers and administrators at
three schools on Thursday that they would soon be shuttered, arguing that
their failures to make gains among struggling students called for radical
The three - Public School 90 in the Bronx, Public School 225 in Queens, and
Junior High School 44 in Manhattan - are among several schools the city
plans to close, with the others being notified in the coming weeks.
J.H.S. 44 will be phased out over two years, allowing current students to
graduate but not accepting new ones. At the same time, new sixth graders
will enter a reconstituted middle school, under different leadership, in the
P.S. 90 will be replaced by two new elementary schools, initially serving
kindergarten through second grade and expanding to fourth grade by 2011.
P.S. 225, serving pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, will be split into
separate elementary and middle schools. Next fall it will open a middle
school with a sixth grade only and expand to eighth grade over two years.
The elementary school will start in September and serve pre-kindergarten
through third grade and grow to fifth grade by 2011.
The three schools were given D's or F's on their report cards from the city
this year, with students at each showing little progress on tests in English
and math compared with their peers citywide and at schools serving similar
At P.S. 90, which received an F from the city this year, half of the
students in the bottom third of test scores for the school did not make a
year's worth of progress in English last year. At P.S. 225, which received a
D, 58 percent of children failed the state English test last year.
The schools were also troubled in areas outside test scores. J.H.S. 44, for
example, was on the city's list of dangerous schools. This, along with the D
it got this year, seemed to have made it a prime candidate for closure,
though it got a B the year before.
Principals held emergency meetings with their employees on Thursday to
explain the decision. The city dispatched a team of support staff to each
school to answer questions and provide information about future employment
(teachers at the schools will remain on the payroll as part of a pool of
educators without permanent placements until they find new jobs).
In a statement, Randi Weingarten
difficult to justify closing schools based on their performance on city
measures. "It's costly to close schools, and the money used in that regard
would be better used to turn them around," she said.
Scott M. Stringer
particularly upset about the school's closure because it came weeks after
community members and the city completed a rezoning process and agreed to
move the Anderson School, a citywide gifted program, into J.H.S. 44.
Mr. Stringer said that while the decision to close the school might prove to
be a smart one, he objected to how the city did it.
"When you do this last-minute, with a we-don't-have-to-consult-with-you
attitude, all you're doing is creating more suspicion and distrust," he said