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City picks 23 schools to close or overhaul, 11 to "transform"

Nearly two dozen struggling schools will be closed, turned into charter schools, or lose their principals and at least half of their teachers over the next several years, city officials announced today.

City officials released the list of 34 schools today that will be part of a three year federal grant program to “turn around” the city’s most struggling schools. Of those schools, 11 will use the “transformation” model — the least invasive option that relies on removing the principal, bringing in more support services, and changing how school time is used. But most of the schools — 23 in total — will undergo one of three plans set out by the federal government”, all of which require many teachers and principals be removed.

Department of Education officials said the transformation model was only being offered to schools that were already showing significant improvement. Many of these are vocational schools, such as William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School and Automotive High School.

The other 23 schools will experience “very dramatic change,” said Deputy Chancellor John White.

That could include one of three plans: turnaround (in which all teachers are excessed and only 50 percent can be re-hired and the principal is replaced); restart (in which a charter school replaces the district school); or closure. Department of Education officials have yet to decide which of these schools will use which plans.

City officials acknowledged that all of these changes will increase the number of teachers in the costly absent teacher reserve — a pool of salaried teachers who work as substitutes while searching for full-time positions.

Transformation schools will begin making changes next year, officials said, meaning they will be able to hire teachers under the new titles of “master” and “turnaround” teacher as soon as this September.

Starting in the fall of 2011, the other 23 schools will be able to hire these teachers and begin the turn-around plans the city chooses for them. Officials said the reason for their later start is that many of the plans will include changes to how space is used, including school closure, that require a public approval process.

The city has already tried to close eight of the schools on the list, but was blocked by a judge’s ruling that the city had violated laws governing school closure. None of those schools were chosen for the transformation method, including W.H. Maxwell CTE High School, which the city planned to close but then decided to keep only its automotive program open.

Some advocates who have opposed school closures in the past today applauded the city’s move to provide some of the city’s struggling schools with more support. The Coalition for Educational Justice released a statement saying it was pleased that 11 schools would go through the transformation model, but wished more schools could do the same.

Over the course of the next few years, the city expects state education officials to add 20 to 30 more schools to the list of persistently lowest-achieving schools eligible for turn-around plans.

The 11 schools selected for transformation are:

Automotive High School
Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School
Brooklyn School for Global Studies
Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School
Cobble Hill School of American Studies
Flushing High School
Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School
Long Island City High School
Queens Vocational and Technical High School
Unity Center for Urban Technologies
William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School

The remaining 23 schools are:

August Martin High School
Beach Channel High School
Boys and Girls High School
Christopher Columbus High School
Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology
Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education High School
Grover Cleveland High School
High School of Graphic Communication Arts
Jamaica High School
Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers
John Adams High School
John Dewey High School
John F. Kennedy High School
Metropolitan Corporate Academy
Monroe Academy for Business/Law
Newtown High School
Norman Thomas High School
Paul Robeson High School
P.S. 065 Mother Hale Academy
Richmond Hill High School
Sheepshead Bay High School
Washington Irving High School
W.H. Maxwell CTE High School

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