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City submits plans for struggling schools, after delay

After a months-long delay, the city on Friday submitted improvement plans to the state for roughly 250 of its lowest performing schools, including two that must make drastic changes or face closure.

The city submitted “placeholder plans” by the original July due date, but asked for extra time to file the final versions. Although the plans were supposed to be in effect by the start of the school year, the state gave the city until November to finalize them. Before that deadline arrived, the city asked for and received a final extension, under the condition that the completed plans would include targets for improved academics, attendance, student credit-earning and course-taking, and school culture.

Schools were supposed to craft their own plans under the “direction and guidance” of the city, according to state officials. Earlier this year, some principals said the extensions would make it harder for them to turn around their schools this year, and critics have questioned why it took the city so long to finalize its strategy for schools that need the most attention.

The plans, which were filed with the state and posted on the schools’ websites Friday, show that the goals and strategies to meet them vary by school.

For instance, the plan for Brooklyn’s Boys and Girls High School — one of the two schools that state officials said must make major changes this year or face closure — says it will increase its student attendance rate by 7 percentage points and student will earn at least 11 credits by June. To make these and other improvements, the plans says the school will assign mentors to some students, send staffers to the homes of frequently absent students, and add an extra period to the day, among other changes.

At J.H.S. 162, also in Brooklyn, the plan calls for a 2 percent increase in the school’s attendance rate by partnering with outside support groups. It also says the school will rewrite the curriculum used for English learners, create “at least 2 pre- and post-unit assessments,” and improve the way administrators evaluate teachers.

Meanwhile, the plan for the Bronx’s Banana Kelly High School sets the goal of a 10 percent increase in Regents exam pass rates and a 5 percent increase in graduation rates by June. (Last year, its goals for both of those metrics were 3 percent increases.) It also says that 14 of 27 teachers will earn a rating of “effective” on their evaluations.

Banana Kelly is one of 94 of these low-ranked schools that the city grouped into a new school-turnaround program dubbed “school renewal.” The plans for those schools mention that, through the program, they will add after-school sessions, extra mental and physical health services, and “intensive” training for all staffers.