The Panel for Educational Policy, which has the final say on closing schools in New York City, voted last night to approve plans to phase out and ultimately shutter Sheepshead Bay High School and 21 other schools at the end of this semester.
Much like the closure hearing held earlier this month at Sheepshead Bay High School, opposition at last night’s meeting was thin compared to previous years.
The New York Post notes:
While hundreds of parents and teachers came to protest the move, the meeting wasn’t nearly as volatile as in past years, when thousands packed the auditorium and raucously taunted education officials.
… Before last night’s vote, far fewer elected officials spoke out than usual, the crowd thinned within hours, and even the head of the UFT sent his No. 2.
NY 1 reports that some of that scale down in opposition is because the UFT has “given up” on challenging Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies, and is now looking ahead to the new mayor. NY 1 reports:
This is the fourth year since a state law was revised to require that the panel votes on school closures, but since the majority of the panel is appointed by the mayor, the panel has approved every single one of the DOE’s proposals to date.
Of all of the DOE’s controversial policies, closing schools consistently generates the most vocal push back. Even if the outcome of the final vote is almost certainly assured, thousands of people show up to the meeting every year. Most are teachers, students or parents at the schools that are being closed, but the teachers’ union has also traditionally brought in hundreds of other members to speak out against the policy.
This year, the United Federation of Teachers has not organized a large protest for the first time. The union president said that he has given up trying to work with the current mayor to get anything done and is focused on the next mayor.
As many as 142 schools have been closed of phased out since Bloomberg took office in 2002.
In addition to closing Sheepshead Bay High School, the panel voted to approve the co-location of four new schools, including two charters, on the 3000 Avenue X premises. A “phase out” period in which no new ninth graders would be accepted to the school begins immediately. Current students would be allowed to graduate or transfer out over the next three years, and, beginning this September, a new public high school, two new charter high schools, and a district transfer high school would all be co-located in the same facility.
The charter high schools will both be managed by New Visions for Public Schools, a nonprofit that manages more than 70 schools across the five boroughs.