City Set to Pull the Plug on Eleven Failing Public Schools

The Department of Education plans to close six schools for poor performance and partially close five others, the most schools to face restructuring since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio entered office vowing to fix troubled schools rather than close them. But after spending three years and $400 million to improve the lowest-performing schools, his administration now plans to close or restructure nearly a dozen of them in June. 

Six will close outright, three others will disappear by merging into another school and two more will end middle school instruction. 

The schools are part of the mayor's renewal program, which gave 94 struggling schools extra resources to improve. 

But at one of the schools on the chopping block, a teacher is accusing the city of building shiny new facilities that students never used. 

"It was a school that was promised, as all renewal schools were promised, extra funds and three years to improve," said James Donahue, an English teacher at JHS 145. "They built a dance studio, they built a health clinic that were never opened, never allowed to use, never given to the students who were supposed to be benefiting from it."

A city spokesperson says the health clinic is still awaiting final approval, and a community organization has begun offering dance lessons in the new studio. 

Overall, the statistics at the schools set for closure are grim.

Take Middle School 584 in Crown Heights. Just 8 percent of students passed the state math test last spring. Students and staff have been fleeing. The school has had three principals in three years, and the student population has plunged to just 78 from 128. 90 percent of the teachers working at the school four years ago are not there today.  

The schools set to merge also have low enrollments, though teachers are more optimistic about the future. 

"I'm a dance teacher here, and it gives me a lot more access to a lot more students, so it's a good thing to merge two schools that were low population into one school that has a higher population," said Heidi McClure, a teacher at a school set to merge. 

When he was mayor, Michael Bloomberg shut 150 schools for poor performance, drawing fierce criticism from de Blasio. As mayor, de Blasio has now decided that some schools are beyond saving.  

The city is proposing the closure of six schools:

  • J.H.S. 145 Arturo Toscanini in Councourse in the Bronx
  • Leadership Institute in Crotona Park in the Bronx
  • Monroe Academy for Visual Arts and Design in Bronx River
  • M.S. 584 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
  • Essence School in East New York, Brooklyn
  • J.H.S. 162 Lola Rodriguez de Tio in Mott Haven in the Bronx

The city is also proposing three school consolidations:

  • Consolidation of North Bronx School of Empowerment and The Young Scholars Academy of the Bronx, both in Williamsbridge
  • Consolidation of Automotive High School and Frances Perkins Academy, both in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • Consolidation of The Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance and Frederick Douglass Academy IV Secondary School, both in Bedford-Suyvesant, Brooklyn

The city added that it is proposing the truncation of middle school grades (6-8) at P.S. 306 Ethan Allen and P.S. 165 Ida Posner.

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