The city again expanded its list of schools in need of closure or transformation, and Sheepshead Bay High School remains in the cross-hairs.
But administrators aren’t going along with the city’s plan without a fight. The principal is pleading for more time, and enlisting the community in a David versus Goliath battle with the city. A rally we be held at the school on Friday, November 19, at 3:00 p.m. to show support for the school.
We first wrote last year that officials were considering Sheepshead Bay H.S. (3000 Avenue X) for closure, but at the time the principal denied the claims. Since then, the city’s list of “persistently lowest achieving” high schools swelled from about a dozen to 34 – and now 47 – including the addition of John Dewey High School at 50 Avenue X, and William E. Grady Vocational High School at 25 Brighton Fourth Road.
The list of targets was created as part of a proposal for Race to the Top, a federal grant program aimed at encouraging states to be aggressive in fixing or closing their lowest performing schools. New York State stands to gain about $500,000 for every school it reforms using one of the federal government’s four models, which range in action from replacing the principal to closing the school entirely.
But the principal is now saying that Sheepshead Bay High School doesn’t belong on the list.
The four-year graduation rate is up to 63 percent, from 49 percent five years ago, according to Reesa Levy, the principal, and most students enter below grade level.
“We are working diligently on our academics,” she told the New York Times. “We improved our graduation rate; we make annual yearly progress. We believe, given a little more time, we could meet all of our targets.”
The school has already been granted a reprieve, after lawyers from the teachers’ union slapped the city with a lawsuit. At issue was a violation in the way schools and their communities were informed. In response to the action, the city implemented a new process, requiring at least four meetings to be held at each school. Parents, staff and the community can object to closure during the meetings.
With the new process – and the four options of transformation available to the city – it’s still unclear whether or not Sheepshead Bay High School will close. The city’s final decisions on all imperiled high schools are expected in mid-December.