2008-02-29 / Community

New Schools Slated For City In September

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has announced that 52 new schools will open across New York City in September. At the start of the Administration,

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Chancellor promised to create 200 schools to provide good choices to students and families. Because of the success of these schools, the Mayor and Chancellor have moved beyond the initial goal. Today's announcement reflects the Administration's continued commitment to creating high-quality options to help all public school students succeed. The new schools announced today, including 15 schools that serve elementary grades, were chosen from a record 141 proposals submitted to the Department of Education by educators, community based organizations, elected officials, and intermediary groups. The number of proposals represents a 48% increase over last year's total of 95 proposals.

"I am thrilled that so many educators and community leaders are getting involved in new school development," Chancellor Klein said. "With their help we've opened hundreds of new schools in the City since 2002 that provide students and families with choices they didn't have before- and this is particularly true for families in poor and minority neighborhoods."

The Department of Education matched approved proposals with potential school locations based on demographic need and community input, particularly in traditionally underserved areas of the city where failing schools are being closed. Twenty-five of the 52 new schools will replace schools that are phasing out. Twelve will open in new school buildings constructed to alleviate overcrowding. The remaining new schools will open in underutilized schools or schools phasing down enrollment. Fourteen of the new schools are elementary schools and early childhood centers, one will serve kindergarten through 8th-grade, seven are middle schools, five will serve grades 6-12, and 25 are high schools. Seven of the 25 high schools are transfer schools- diploma-granting high schools that enroll students who are at least two years behind in credit accumulation or have already dropped out. Another two of the 25 high schools are selective high schools that require students to meet rigorous academic criteria before the students are considered for admission. The Administration is also committed to supporting new charter schools, 19 of which were recently approved by the Board or Regents to open in New York City as early as 2008.

The latest new schools will build on the success of the 231 new small secondary schools opened since 2002. Last year, the graduation rate for new small schools with senior classes topped 75% for the second year in a row. In 2006, 15 new small secondary schools graduated 77% of their first class, compared to a citywide graduation rate of 60%. In 2007, a total of 47 new small secondary schools with senior classes graduated 76% of seniors, according to the DOE's preliminary data. Thirty of these schools are located in schools previously marked for closure, where the collective graduation rate in 2002 was 35%.

Eighty-nine percent of incoming 9th graders in new small high schools this year are Black or Hispanic- compared to 68% in other schools citywide- and more than 56% of students entered these schools performing below grade level in ELA or Math. Fourteen percent are English Language Learners and 13% require special education services, compared to 11% and 12%, respectively in other schools citywide.

Transfer schools, which exclusively enroll students who are at least two years behind, have also achieved notable success, graduating 56% of over-age, undercredited students. Similar students who remained in comprehensive high schools achieved a 19% graduation rate. Transfer schools currently serve a student population that is 82% African-American or Hispanic. All new Transfer Schools include a "Learning to Work" component through which students receive indepth job-readiness training, including paid internships. In January, the Mayor and the Chancellor celebrated the graduation of the 5,000th student who attended Learning to Work programs. The seven new transfer schools build on the success of the six transfer schools opened since 2006, and advance the Mayor's commitment to open 15-20 new transfer schools as part of his Learning to Work Initiative.

Several of New York City's selective high schools, which enroll students who have demonstrated high academic achievement, rank among the most competitive secondary schools in the country. This year, 28,000 students took the specialized high school entrance exam to qualify for enrollment into one of the specialized high schools- the most competitive selective schools- and thousands more applied for seats in other selective high schools. The two new selective schools advance Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to open seven selective high schools before the end of his second term. Brooklyn Latin, which opened in 2006 and Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering, which opened in 2007, are the first two schools opened under this initiative.

Last month, guidance counselors shared directories of new high schools (available online at http:// sch ools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/Publications/d efault.htm) with 8th-grade students, and earlier this month hundreds of 8th-grade students and their families attended new high school fairs. Individual new school information sessions are ongoing. Eighthgraders are encouraged to apply to the new high schools, including new selective schools, by submitting New High School Choice Forms to their school guidance counselors by February 26. Students who have completed at least one year of high school and are considering enrolling in a transfer school should contact their guidance counselor or visit the Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation website at http:// schools.nyc.gov/Offices/OMPG.

Students attending elementary schools that are closing are guaranteed seats in the new schools opening in the building where their current school is located. Other families interested in attending new elementary or middle schools should call their borough enrollment office (location and phone numbers at http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment).

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