your turn

Weigh in on the city’s plans to merge, close, or shrink 19 schools at these public meetings

PHOTO: Alex Zimmerman
Teacher Aixa Rodriguez speaks at a public meeting.

In the coming days, the public will have a chance to weigh in on the city’s plans to close 14 schools and merge or shrink five others — the largest round of school closures under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

As in previous years, city officials plan on holding at least two public meetings at each school: One to allow community members to ask questions about the changes, and a “joint public hearing,” required by state law, where members of the public can offer input that will be delivered to the Panel for Educational Policy, which must sign off on the education department’s proposals.

While the meetings are a chance to ask questions or raise concerns, the PEP typically approves the city’s plans even when community members oppose them at these hearings.

The first round of community meetings are already underway, but most will happen over the next two weeks. The joint public hearings have not all been scheduled, an education department spokesman said, but you can find the dates and times for those that have below.

Here is a list of all the scheduled meetings, which will each take place at the affected school:

Eubie Blake School Closure 12/19 — 5 p.m. 2/5 — 6 p.m.
Gregory Jocko Jackson School Merger 12/21 — 4 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Coalition School for Social Change Closure 1/3 — 4 p.m. Not yet scheduled
P.S. 050 Vito Marcantonio Closure 1/3 — 5:30 p.m. Not yet scheduled
New Explorers High School Closure 1/8 — 4 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Felisa Rincon de Gautier Institute Closure 1/8 — 4 p.m. Not yet scheduled
High School for Health and Career Sciences Closure 1/8 — 6 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Holcombe L. Rucker School of Community Research Merger 1/8 — 6 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Urban Science Academy Closure 1/8 — 6 p.m. Not yet scheduled
KAPPA IV Closure 1/9 — 5 p.m. 2/12 — 6 p.m.
P.S. 092 Bronx School Closure 1/9 — 5 p.m. 2/7 — 6 p.m.
Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School Closure 1/9 — 6 p.m. 2/8 — 6 p.m.
Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts Elimination of middle school 1/10 — 6 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Academy for Social Action Closure 1/10 — 6 p.m. Not yet scheduled
P.S./M.S. 42 R. Vernam Closure 1/10 — 6:30 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation Closure 1/11 — 6 p.m. 2/5 — 6 p.m.
M.S. 53 Brian Piccolo Closure 1/11 — 6:30 p.m. 2/7 — 6 p.m.
Brownsville Collaborative Middle School Merger 1/16 — 4 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Entrada Academy Merger 1/17 — 5 p.m. Not yet scheduled
East Flatbush Community and Research School Merger 1/17 — 6 p.m. Not yet scheduled
Accion Academy Merger 1/18 — 5 p.m. Not yet scheduled

The New Chancellor

Tell us: What should the new chancellor, Richard Carranza, know about New York City schools?

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
A student at P.S. 69 Journey Prep in the Bronx paints a picture. The school uses a Reggio Emilia approach and is in the city's Showcase Schools program.

In a few short weeks, Richard Carranza will take over the nation’s largest school system as chancellor of New York City’s public schools.

Carranza, who has never before worked east of the Mississippi, will have to get up to speed quickly on a new city with unfamiliar challenges. The best people to guide him in this endeavor: New Yorkers who understand the city in its complexity.

So we want to hear from you: What does Carranza need to know about the city, its schools, and you to help him as he gets started April 2. Please fill out the survey below; we’ll collect your responses and share them with our readers and Carranza himself.

The deadline is March 23.

buses or bust?

Mayor Duggan says bus plan encourages cooperation. Detroit school board committee wants more details.

PHOTO: Denver Post file
Fourth-graders Kintan Surghani, left, and Rachel Anderson laugh out the school bus window at Mitchell Elementary School in Golden.

Detroit’s school superintendent is asking for more information about the mayor’s initiative to create a joint bus route for charter and district students after realizing the costs could be higher than the district anticipated.

District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told a school board subcommittee Friday that he thought the original cost to the district was estimated to be around $25,000 total. Instead, he said it could cost the district roughly between $75,000 and a maximum of $125,000 for their five schools on the loop.

“I think there was a misunderstanding….” Vitti said. “I think this needs a deeper review…The understanding was that it would be $25,000 for all schools. Now, there are ongoing conversations about it being $15,000 to $25,000 for each individual school.”

The bus loop connecting charter and district schools was announced earlier this month by Mayor Mike Duggan as a way to draw kids back from the suburbs.

Duggan’s bus loop proposal is based on one that operates in Denver that would travel a circuit in certain neighborhoods, picking up students on designated street corners and dropping them off at both district and charter schools.

The bus routes — which Duggan said would be funded by philanthropy, the schools and the city — could even service afterschool programs that the schools on the bus route could work together to create.

In concept, the finance committee was not opposed to the idea. But despite two-thirds of the cost being covered and splitting the remaining third with charters, they were worried enough about the increased costs that they voted not to recommend approval of the agreement to the full board.  

Vitti said when he saw the draft plan, the higher price made him question whether the loop would be worth it.

“If it was $25,000, it would be an easier decision,” he said.

To better understand the costs and benefits and to ultimately decide, Vitti said he needs more data, which will take a few weeks. 

Alexis Wiley, Duggan’s chief of staff, said the district’s hesitation was a sign they were performing their due diligence before agreeing to the plan.

“I’m not at all deterred by this,” Wiley said. She said the district, charters, and city officials have met twice, and are “working in the same direction, so that we eliminate as many barriers as we can.”

Duggan told a crowd earlier this month at the State of the City address that the bus loop was an effort to grab the city’s children – some 32,500 – back from suburban schools.

Transportation is often cited as one of the reasons children leave the city’s schools and go to other districts, and charter leaders have said they support the bus loop because they believe it will make it easier for students to attend their schools.

But some board members had doubts that the bus loop would be enough to bring those kids back, and were concerned about giving charters an advantage in their competition against the district to increase enrollment.

“I don’t know if transportation would be why these parents send their kids outside of the district,” Angelique Peterson-Mayberry said. “If we could find out some of the reasons why, it would add to the validity” of implementing the bus loop.

Board member LaMar Lemmons echoed other members’ concerns on the impact of the transportation plan, and said many parents left the district because of the poor quality of schools under emergency management, not transportation.

“All those years in emergency management, that drove parents to seek alternatives, as well as charters,” he said. “I’m hesitant to form an unholy alliance with the charters for something like this.”