2010-07-23 / Top Stories

Mayor To BCHS: You’re On Your Own

By Howard Schwach

Speaking on his weekly radio show last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the 19 schools the city was blocked from closing, which include Beach Channel High School, that they are on their own despite a United Federation of Teachers plea to plow some extra resources into those schools.

“If there are only 20 students [in the school] most of the teachers and the staff are not going to be there in September,” Bloomberg said in response to a caller’s question.

He could have been speaking about Beach Channel High School, which currently has only 50 students registered in the ninth grade for September, according to a spokesperson for the DOE, who added that no statistics are yet available for the new school in the building – The Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability.

The union had pushed for extra assistance, especially for special education and English Language Learners, but Bloomberg expressly turned the UFT down.

Bloomberg says that whatever services the school can provide will have to come from its regular budget, which is calculated mostly on the number of students registered at the school.

“If there are issues about funding at a particular school, we will work with that school to find a solution,” said Department of Education spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

Bloomberg and the DOE planned to close Beach Channel High School and 18 other schools, but were stopped by a recent court order that ruled the DOE did not follow the rules and could not close the schools until the process was completed in a legal manner – something that would take at least another year.

The teacher’s union joined the NAACP in the suit that brought about the court’s decision, and union president Michael Mulgrew said that Bloomberg’s statement “shows his lack of support for the schools.”

Mulgrew told reporters, “If [the DOE] can’t implement their education plans within the budgets, then who knows where we’re going to go. I have been known to go to court.”

Seven of the schools, including BCHS, will have to share its building with the new Environmental Sustainability school.

While the DOE declined to provide the number of students registered for that school, local sources told The Wave that it had aproximately 100 students registered for September, a normal number for a start-up school, which will begin with only a ninth grade and will then pick up another grade each year until it reaches the normal grade 9 to grade 12 organization.

Local union officials had been fighting the insertion of a new school into the building, arguing that, under the recent court ruling it was illegal to site a new school at BCHS.

Under a recent agreement between the DOE and UFT, however, the new school will be allowed to start in September.

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