Enrollment numbers at high schools that the city had targeted for closure are on the rise, but still far below past years’ levels.
After a judge’s ruling postponed closures at 19 schools — 14 of them high schools — many of the schools began reporting that they were severely under-enrolled. Metropolitan Corporate Academy had eight incoming ninth graders and Jamaica High School in Queens had 23 — a number so low the school’s principal doubted he’d be able to have a freshman class. Now that the city has completed its second round of high school placements, more students are set to enter these schools next year.
But the numbers are still extremely low. While there are now 23 students enrolled at Metropolitan Corporate Academy, the school traditionally saw an incoming freshman class of between 70 and 100 students. Many of these schools still have enrollments too low for them to support a ninth grade program. If the city does not assign them more students, they could be forced to phase out their ninth grades, skirting the court’s ruling that the schools should remain intact.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said the city expects the enrollment numbers to climb.
Roughly 500 students who were given a choice between a saved school and another school have yet to inform the city of their decision. The under-enrolled high schools will also be able to receive over-the-counter students who move to New York over the summer and are typically assigned wherever there are empty seats.
Part of the reason for the diminished enrollments could be the city’s high school admissions process. This year, students who listed any of the then-closing schools as one of their top choices were matched to other schools. But after a judge’s ruling postponed the closures, the city sent those students a letter giving them a second chance to pick a high school — this time including the would-be closing schools on their list of options.
To make its preference clear, the city’s letters discouraged parents from sending their children to the schools marked for closure.