New York

At three tiny schools, brief closure hearings air common themes

A smattering of parents and teachers attended a public hearing Monday night about the city's plan to phase out and replace Brooklyn's P.S. 73. (Photo: Nell Gluckman) School closure hearings tend to be fairly raucous and protracted events, but three that the Department of Education held on Monday night for small schools were quick and relatively quiet. Some of the strongest support for Freedom Academy High School, which would close outright at the end of the year, came not from students or teachers but from nonprofit partners who have tried to help the school's low-performing students. The principal of Manhattan's J.H.S. 13 was its most vocal supporter. And at P.S. 73 in Brooklyn, only a handful of people spoke out to defend the school — though parents left with questions unanswered. The hearings are a required part of the city’s process to close or open schools, which culminates with a vote by the Panel for Educational Policy. The panel, which has never rejected a city proposal, is set to vote on the plans March 11. P.S. 73 The basement auditorium of P.S. 73 was nearly empty on Tuesday evening when Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson explained the rationale behind the city’s plan to phase out the Brownsville school. P.S. 73 “lacks capacity to improve quickly,” Gibson said, explaining that the department thinks students in the area will be served better by two new elementary schools that would open in the building. The explanation met little official resistance. Just three parents and one teacher spoke at the hearing, and parents who had been told that the meeting could go on for hours were surprised when it was adjourned after only 40 minutes. Principal Kenya Stowe sat on the panel but did not speak on the school’s behalf.