2010-12-17 / Top Stories

First, There Was 1. Soon, There Will Be 5 And Then 4

By Howard Schwach

At one time, knowing the names of the high schools in Rockaway was so simple. First, more than 110 years ago, there was Far Rockaway High School. Then, decades later, came Beach Channel High School. That paradigm last for many years, until Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his minions took over the school system more than eight years ago.

This June, Far Rockaway High School and its storied history will end and the building on Bay 25 Street will morph into the Far Rockaway Educational Campus, a building housing one middle school and three high schools.

Several years ago, a new school was added to the Beach Channel High School building.

Called the Channel View School for Research, that school grew each year and is now a grades 6 to 12 school.

That makes two. The numbers game, however, does not stop there.

Last September, when the Department of Education first tried to close down Beach Channel High School before the close-down was foiled by a lawsuit, it placed a new high school in the building, to be named the Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability. That school houses only a ninth grade this year, but will grow until, in the 2013-2014 school year, it will host grades 9 to 12.

That makes three. The Beach Channel High School building also hosts a District 75 Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) program for physically challenged students officially designated as 75Q256@410, more often called P256Q.

That makes four.

Last week, the Department of Education quietly proposed another school to “co-locate” with the other four schools.

It does not yet have a name, according to DOE sources, but it will be designated as 27Q351.

The school will not be a zoned school, but will take applicants from all over the city, with Queens students getting preference, according to the DOE’s Educational Impact Statement. Like other new schools, it will start the 2010-2011 school year with 100 ninth grade students and will grow each year so that, by the 2014-2015 school year it will host 400 students in grades 9 to 12.

That makes five.

If the DOE gets its way, however, Beach Channel High School itself will be phased out over the next three years and then closed.

By the 2014-2015 school year, it will be only a memory.

And, that makes four.

Unless the DOE makes room, as expected, for a high school version of State Senator Malcolm Smith’s charter school.

In that case, we might well be up to five again at any time.

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