Students protest the DOE's plans before a March hearing (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

The plan to reform Sheepshead Bay High School using a “turnaround model” – which requires firing at least half the staff – has spurred condemnation from parents, teachers and students as we’ve previously reported.

It’s not a matter of whether the school needs work or not – most agree it does – but rather that the school was already enrolled in a reform process and had made great strides. Now the change in direction is wreaking havoc on the progress made, and teachers are losing faith in a system that has already pulled the rug out from under them.

Such undermining of teacher morale is setting any future reforms up for failure, one teacher told Gotham Schools:

Robin Kovat, social studies teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School

What changes have the School Improvement Grants brought to your school so far?

“Well, they instituted [the "restart" reform model], and we started it, and then they threw this wrench into our works, so the morale now is really going down because part of it involves a buy-in for the staff but nobody knows if they’re going to be here next year. I think dividing it into academies would really be wonderful if we keep the people here who can actually make a difference, who have been shown to make a difference, who have already made a difference.”

Gotham Schools has been asking a set of questions of teachers and students at some of the 26 high schools slated for closure. Here’s what another Sheepshead Bay High School teacher had to say about how the additional funds from reform have helped in the past year:

Alona Geller, English teacher and Cheerleading coach at Sheepshead Bay High School

What changes have the School Improvement Grants brought to your school so far?

“I started here when I was 22 years old. And I’ve been teaching for seven [years]. I think a lot of improvements have taken place. Any money granted to us is used for trips and programs and supplies, the kids have everything tha they need, and I know friends of mine in other schools don’t have those things.

This year in particular, we have City Year in the building, the ninth graders have a lot of support, and they’re thriving in away I haven’t seen before. City Year greets the kids at the door, they provide tutoring services, they’re in our classrooms, they follow the kids all day long and see what subjects they’re struggling with. They really keep up the morale for the students and for the teachers.”

Those funds will continue to flow while half the staff that have helped find the most efficient use for them will be dismissed if the turnaround model gets approved, as is widely expected.The Department of Education will decide whether to close the schools on April 26.

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  • NI51965

    When I went to Sheepshead in the 70s,their were no trips,programs or services. You showed up in the morning,went to your classes,listened to the teachers,went home,did your homework,and that was it. The city can rename the school,fire everyone,add all the special programs they can think of. But if the so called students,don’t want to learn,nothing will help.

  • TonyDanza

    There’s not going to be a turnaround. Close that dump of a school.

    • someone

      That’s exactly what they did years ago to the other bad schools around it.  They closed them down.  Then they just moved all those kids to the next worst school, which was sheepshead bay h.s.
      Closing the worst schools down and then moving em to the next worst school doesn’t solve anything.  They’re putting away the problem for later.

  • Tedruss952

    @Tony Danza – Your disparaging comments exposes your pot-holed and dementia-ladened knowledge of your neighborhoods’ ethical and moral albatross!!!

    It is glaringly unfortunate how the surrounding communities have neglected their civic responsibility for so many decades by allowing the Board of Education, and now the Department of Education, to systematically divert needed resources from pre-selected elementary, middle and high schools resulting in schools of haves and schools of have nots. On top of that, when an 8th grader is not accepted at a high school of their choice, or a student of age or over age immigrates to Brooklyn from outside New York or the United States, they are conspicuously steered towards Sheepshead Bay High School.

    THE REASONS FOR THE SCHOOLS PROBLEMS ARE THAT SIMPLE!!!

    In spite of this travesty, the teachers and administrators have gallantly toiled in an effort to right this wrong without the communities help, nor compassion.

    Only you, the Sheepshead Bay – Gerritsen Beach – Homecrest communities can effectively convey to the Mayor and the Schools Chancellor that in June, 2011 that they finally appropriated the required resources to the Administration and Teachers of Sheepshead Bay High School, only to renege on that appropriation in December, 2011.

    HELP RESTORE THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL!!!

    • liop

      What are you talking about they spend a good amount of money per student in Sheepshead bay HS. They even get free school supplies. If anything immigrants raise the standard of the school. Chinese and Indian immigrants do very well in school for the most part. 

  • ourneighborhood

    This is the worse school and eventually kids who go there will end up on welfare or in jail because they refuse to improve their lifes. They are used to the life of shooting and reproducing at 16. So these hoodlums will do absolutely nothing for society.

  • Tedruss952

    @liop – Broaden your perspective and maybe you’ll come close to the reality of what actually occurs. They, the Department of Education DOES NOT appropriate the needed resources to Sheepshead Bay High School commensurate with the level of pre-high school education the average 9th grader entering in their freshman year. And what mythological readings have you seen that are perversely reporting about free school supplies? As far as well educated Chinese and Indians, the Department of Education DOES NOT direct them to Sheepshead Bay High School!!! When I refer to immigrants I’m talking about families who have come to the United States for a better educational opportunity for their children because their socio-economic status in their native country DOES NOT allow them that opportunity.

    In order for the community to be fully informed they must realize the many complexities of a schools Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP) to determine how and why a schools administration allocates its appropriations in the manner in which it DOES!!! Then, and only then, will the community be able to decipher the misperceptions created by the garbled statistics in the CEP. The playing field changes constantly, and the community must keep abreast of the changes, in depth, or risk being hoodwinked by the purveyors of deceit.

    FORGIVE THEM LORD, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!!! … HAPPY EASTER!!!

    • liop

      I’m not a fan of the DOE, but they appropriate plenty of money per student in this school. According to the  NYC’s own website its $15,869/per student for the school cost, and $18,419 for the cost to the entire system.

      And where did I read that they pay for supplies. Well right in the article above
      “I think a lot of improvements have taken place. Any money granted to us
      is used for trips and programs and supplies, the kids have everything
      that they need, and I know friends of mine in other schools don’t have
      those things”Alona Geller, English teacher and Cheerleading coach at Sheepshead Bay High School

      What makes you think that Chinese and Indian families haven’t come  ” to the United States for a better educational opportunity for their children because their socio-economic status in their native country DOES NOT allow them that opportunity. That’s what most immigrants come here for.
       

      • Tedruss952

        Ms. Geller’s statement is not being reported in the proper context. The money granted that she is referring to is allocated from a specific appropriation called “Council for Unity”.   

    • liop
      • Tedruss952

        So!!!!! What’s your point????? … First of all, the web link you listed does not show a “budget”. It is a “Summary Expenditure Report” … BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!

        Even if you were to govern a school by this summary that the DOE puts on the web link, not the school administration, then how do you explain the across-the-board lower average cost per student in every category listed???? Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the school has lagged behind the better schools in overall performance. REMEMBER, THAT’S ONLY ONE OF THE REASONS THE DOE HAS HOPED THE COMMUNITY WOULD NOT KNOW!!!! 

  • Tedruss952

    @liop – Read what I wrote more carefully … You’re refuting something I didn’t write!!! As for the budget, you’re interpreting statistics with blinders on. I wrote that the majority of students “directed” to the school are behind educationally before they enter as a freshman, which leaves the school no choice but to allocate a higher percentage of resources to that group, hence if they were better prepared by the DOE before they entered, the allocation would be less. You are viewing the budget as pieces to a puzzle and forgetting that the pieces put together cannot still be a puzzle. That is the only way the budget can be a working tool to proficiently educate the students at hand.

    I don’t understand why you bring Ms. Geller into this discussion. I have high praise for her and the rest of the staff and administration who have worked tirelessly without the DOE’s recognition of their appropriation inequities.

    All I’m saying is for the DOE to make the playing field even as far as student progress, and the current administration and staff will more than meet the challenge. And remember, the DOE agreed to the plan devised a year ago, and for reasons in no way associated with the plan, decided this past December that they would not honor that plan. Meanwhile, during last summer and the first 7 months of the current school year, the administration and staff have undergone vigorous and detailed training for the tasks ahead under the tutorlage of our DOE-approved Education Partnership Organization (EPO), Diplomas Now.

    The irony of this is that you and I would not be having this “blind” discussion if the DOE had only let the plan continue and publicly acknowledge that a 3-year plan had been agreed on through the 2013-2014 school year. I would gladly continue this conversation face-to-face if you choose to at the school.