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banana kelly high school
October 26, 2017
‘Everything you got’: How a Bronx principal is trying to restore hope to a once-troubled school, one student at a time
A day in the life of Asya Johnson, the principal tasked with transforming Longwood Preparatory Academy in the South Bronx.
September 18, 2017
In year three of New York City’s massive school turnaround program, the big question is: What’s next?
“Lots of people are experiencing it as the last of the three years.”
April 14, 2015
Facing state scrutiny, six new ‘out-of-time’ schools must make major changes
Staffers may have to reapply for their jobs and undergo extra training at the schools, which could face sanctions if they don't quickly improve.
December 7, 2012
Battered principal of beleaguered Banana Kelly HS steps down
A principal chosen to lead improvement at Banana Kelly High School has resigned, months after being shot by a BB gun outside the school. Antonio Arocho stepped down this week, adding a second abrupt leadership change to Banana Kelly's recent history of dramatic ups and downs. He is now working as an assistant principal at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics in East Harlem. While the move represents a demotion, Arocho's resignation was voluntary, according to Department of Education spokewoman Connie Pankratz, who said the decision to leave was motivated by "personal reasons." Earlier this fall, Arocho had been shot with a BB pellet one morning before school, DNAInfo reported in October. A student had also doused him and more than a dozen classmates with pepper-spray in December 2011.
April 5, 2012
CEJ: Hiring costs at turnaround schools could top $60 million
Parents and students rallied at City Hall this afternoon to protest the city's closure plans Replacing teachers at the remaining 26 turnaround schools could cost the city as much as $60 million, according to a new analysis released today by one of the city's most vociferous opponents. The report, released by the Coalition for Educational Justice in advance of an organized student and parent protest at City Hall, also took aim at the process the Department of Education used to assessed many of the schools that remain on the turnaround list. A dozen schools are doing well enough on their annual progress reports that they cleared the city's own closure benchmark. The CEJ cost analysis found that up to 849 teachers in the 26 schools could be replaced in order to qualify for federal school improvement grants, which require that no more than 50 percent of teachers can be retained under the turnaround model. The analysis omitted teachers who were hired in the last two years because they are likely to be exempted from the total pool of teachers that must reapply to their positions. The final figures will almost certainly be less than CEJ's projections because DOE officials have begun telling principals they won't be on the hook any specific number of teachers. The report details the salary and tenure profile at each of the 26 schools. For instance, teachers at John Dewey High School, where college-readiness rates exceed the city average, earned the highest average salary, $82,641, and just 7 percent of its staff was hired in the last two years. At Banana Kelly, where more than half of its teaching staff joined the school in recent years, just one teacher would need to be removed at the school to qualify for the funds.
March 5, 2012
At HS fair, turnaround schools struggle to define themselves
Paul Heymont, a social studies teacher at Automotive High School, shows off the list of sports and clubs on offer at the Brooklyn school. It's hard to get students interested in your school when, according to the city's "turnaround" plan, it might not exist in the fall. That's what Deborah Elsenhout, a guidance counselor at Banana Kelly High School, reasoned when droves of families walked right past her booth at last weekend's Round 2 High School Fair, toward the hallway reserved for new schools opening in the fall. As one of 33 schools proposed for the "turnaround" school reform model, Banana Kelly is waiting to learn whether it will shut down this June, to reopen in the fall with the same students but a new name and a staffing overhaul. Students who apply to the 25 high schools on the turnaround list would automatically be transfered to the new schools that would replace them. Elsenhout said she either glossed over the turnaround situation to families who did stop, or didn't mention it at all. But it's hard, she noted, to advertise a school without a name. "We do have a rigorous academic curriculum and a strong connection with the community," she said. "But there's a sadness, knowing people will be losing their jobs." Teachers at many of the turnaround schools have expressed persistent confusion about the plan and its implication for their students. They also found it posed a dilemma at the fair, where 270 schools were given a weekend to pitch their programs, new and old, to hundreds of eighth-graders who were not accepted at their top-choice high schools during the city's main admissions process. Some teachers reassured families their schools weren't going anywhere, but others said the schools were already gone.
February 28, 2012
Days from state deadline, city begins detailing turnaround plans
Confusion about whether the city's turnaround proposals would amount to school closures can be put to rest. Eight of the schools the Department of Education has said it would "turn around" are on the Panel for Educational Policy's April agenda — as closure proposals. The schools are among 33 the city has said it would overhaul in order to qualify for federal funding earmarked for overhauling low-performing schools. The eight schools do not represent all of the closure proposals the city will ultimately make. Other schools that are not yet on the agenda, including Brooklyn's School for Global Studies, were told on Monday that the city had scheduled public hearings about their closure proposals for late March and early April. (The panel approved 18 non-turnaround closures earlier this month.) City officials have said that they would move forward with turnaround at all 33 schools, even after the city and union settled a key issue that had derailed previous overhaul processes at many of the schools and after it became clear that the schools' performance varies widely. Turnaround would require the schools to close and reopen after getting new names and replacing half of their teachers. Thirty-page "Educational Impact Statements" for each of the closure proposals offer clues about what the replacement schools would look like. The statements indicate that the city would maintain the schools' partnerships, extracurricular programs, and many curriculum offerings. The school that replaces Automotive High School, for example, would still offer vocational certification in car repair. Several of the schools would be broken into "small learning communities" that include ninth-grade academies, according to the city's plans. In the statements, the department also explains the switch to a more aggressive overhaul strategy from the models that most of the schools had been undergoing until the end of last year, when their funding was frozen because the city and teachers union failed to agree on new teacher evaluations.
October 31, 2011
Repeating a Halloween pattern, students skipped school today
Attendance was down at schools across the city today, an annual Halloween phenomenon that teachers said is driven by rumors of gang violence. Eighty-two percent of students came to school today citywide, well below the average daily rate of 92 percent, according to preliminary attendance data posted on the Department of Education's website. Attendance was lowest at high schools and in pockets of Brooklyn and the Bronx. At several schools where daily attendance averages about 75 percent, including Banana Kelly High School and Lehman High School in the Bronx, only about 40 percent of students showed up today. Assemblyman Karim Camara told GothamSchools that parents reported low attendance in many Central Brooklyn schools. On Twitter, Brooklyn high school teacher Stephen Lazar said only 50 to 60 percent of his students had come to school today. Another teacher, Janine Whitman, said only 2 of her 12 students were in class this morning. "We were missing many students AND teachers today!" wrote Mark Anderson, who teaches at an elementary school in the Bronx.
May 26, 2011
Bronx students demand support to turn around their school
Students at Samuel Gompers High School in the South Bronx held a protest march today to ask for more support for their struggling school. (Patrick Wall) Students at a South Bronx high school staged a march today to demand that the city seek more federal support to improve their school. The students, who attend Samuel Gompers High School, have a specific improvement model in mind: the "re-start" option that is one of four models districts can follow in order to receive federal school turnaround funding. Gompers is one of nine poorly performing high schools that are eligible for the federal help, but are not part of the city's application for federal turnaround grants. Twenty-two other schools are receiving the grants, and 11 schools are already working with federal grants under the "transformation" improvement model. “Why hasn’t the DOE given the grants to all the schools?” Gompers sophomore Sony Cabral asked at the rally. “They’re setting us up for failure.” The students ended their march, which attracted about two dozen students, at the nearby Banana Kelly High School, one of the schools slated to receive the restart funding. The city chose schools for the restart plan that it felt showed signs of improvement and enough leadership capacity to work with outside organizations to make serious adjustments, said Department of Education spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. “The schools we didn’t choose for restart just did not have the type of leadership and staff in place that we felt could effectively team up with an educational partnership organization,” said Zarin-Rosenfeld. School officials said that the nine schools that are not part of the city's turnaround application will still get some support. The city Department of Education is adding an extra $300,000 to their budgets and offering help from teams in the Children's First networks, which support schools with a range of needs from professional development to budgeting.
May 25, 2011
A packed agenda for parent and student activists tomorrow
Charter school parents won’t be the only ones taking to the streets tomorrow. Protests are also planned against planned teacher layoffs, a charter school…
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