Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced plans to close three poorly performing public schools on Monday. The closures represent a dramatic shift by the mayor, who ran for office promising to lift up failing schools rather than shut them, as NY1's Lindsey Christ reports.
He had said it would be a last resort, and something he wanted to avoid for at least three years. But two years after taking control of the school system, Mayor de Blasio's administration said Monday that it will close three struggling schools in Brooklyn.
But, it's a move that de Blasio and his schools Chancellor have been increasingly suggesting they might need to make, including in an exclusive interview with NY1 last week.
"That three year limit is not a minimum, it is a frame but if a school falters to the point that we think that school should be shut down more quickly, we will do that," de Blasio said.
The three targeted schools have poor test scores and low enrollments. Two are middle schools — Peace Academy and the School for the Urban Environment — which each have fewer than 60 students. At Peace Academy, just 2% of students passed the state English exam last year. At Urban Environment, everyone failed.
The graduation rate at the third school, Foundations Academy High School, is just 32%, compared to 70% citywide.
School closures are always controversial. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg closed more than 150 schools and thousands turned out to protest, including Bill de Blasio, who was Public Advocate at the time.
Some community members are not happy with this latest decision.
"I think it's absurd," one said. "No school should be closed. There's more than enough money allocated to our schools and it's not getting there."
But flooding struggling schools with resources is exactly what de Blasio's plan has been. And two of the closing schools were part of that $400 million effort. Parents, however, may have hastened the fate of the three schools by sending their kids elsewhere. In a statement, the Chancellor acknowledged the three schools simply have too few students to turn around.
The three schools wil shut in June. The administration would not comment whether additional schools might also close by then, only saying the potential remains on the table.