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jamaica high school
July 1, 2014
As Columbus closes, its last class celebrates a bittersweet graduation
More than 140 under-performing schools have closed since the Bloomberg administration began phasing schools out early in his tenure. Christopher Columbus High School is one of 18 to graduate its last class this year.
August 31, 2011
Teachers in ATR pool get first temporary assignment of many
The Department of Education gave out temporary assignments yesterday to nearly 2,000 teachers who are on the city payroll but who do not have permanent jobs in schools. That didn't stop dozens of teachers from lining up outside the Brooklyn Museum yesterday afternoon for one of the last hiring fairs before school starts next week. Members of the Absent Teacher Reserve, the pool of teachers whose positions have been cut, mostly due to budget cuts or school closures, received special invitations to the job fair from the DOE, encouraging them to be "proactive" in their job search. If those teachers are not offered jobs this week, they will be asked to rotate between different schools on a weekly basis as substitute teachers, according to an arrangement made by the teachers union and the DOE earlier this summer to avoid teacher layoffs. In previous years, ATRs were typically assigned to one school for the entire year to cover for absent teachers. There were 1,940 teachers in the ATR pool as of Aug. 19. Typically, the pool shrinks in the first weeks of the school year as principals hasten to fill open positions. Those who logged into the job portal for excessed teachers yesterday morning found information on what schools to report to in September. English teacher Jerome Madramootoo, who was excessed after the city began phasing out Jamaica High School in June, said he was assigned to work at Newtown High School in Queens next month, but given no specific information about what he would be doing there.
January 24, 2011
Scenes from three hearings: Jamaica, Columbus and Robeson
Jamaica High School students, teachers and parents cheer a speaker at the school For the past two weeks, education officials have spent nearly every weeknight holding public hearings at each of the 25 district schools the city wants to close next year. Seventeen of the schools are in this for the second go-around, after a union lawsuit foiled the department's attempt to close them last year. As a result, this year's hearings are both formatted differently — part of an attempt to better explain the closure decisions and avoid another lawsuit — and less emotional, despite communities' still-simmering anger and frustration. GothamSchools reporters recently attended three of these hearings. Jamaica High School The group of students, teachers and parents that gathered in Jamaica High School's auditorium was smaller than the large, boisterous crowd that packed last year's hearing. But, as several students pointed out, the school is also smaller this year. After the courts blocked the city from closing Jamaica and 18 other high schools last year, the size of the incoming freshman class shrunk dramatically.
January 18, 2011
Casting former chancellor as villain, students' play goes on
A play written by Queens high school students finally came to the stage last Friday, after igniting controversy for its criticism of former Chancellor Joel…
December 9, 2010
List of schools city must "turn around" grows by twenty-one
New York State's annual worst-of list is out today and it includes 21 new struggling schools that New York City will have to radically change in the next several years. Many of these schools are already on the city's radar. Two of them — the School for Community Research and Learning and I.S. 195 — are on the list of schools the city plans to begin closing next year. Others, such as Herbert Lehman High School, earned poor grades on their annual progress reports and were considered for closure. With the addition of these 21 schools, the number of schools eligible for (but not yet undergoing) federal "turnaround" strategies is up to 43. By next April, the city's Department of Education has to send the state a plan for how it will improve each of these schools. "We need to apply to the state with a school-by-school plan with a proposed budget and we'll go back and forth with them on a draft until they finally approve," said DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. "We have a technical deadline of sometime in April, but obviously we want to get moving on this as soon as possible."
December 7, 2010
City adds 14 schools to planned closure list, bringing total to 26
The city announced plans to shutter an additional 14 schools this morning, making a total of 26 schools that may either close entirely or begin…
July 16, 2010
Enrollment grows at saved high schools, but not by much
Enrollment numbers at high schools that the city had targeted for closure are on the rise, but still far below past years' levels. After a judge's ruling postponed closures at 19 schools — 14 of them high schools — many of the schools began reporting that they were severely under-enrolled. Metropolitan Corporate Academy had eight incoming ninth graders and Jamaica High School in Queens had 23 — a number so low the school's principal doubted he'd be able to have a freshman class. Now that the city has completed its second round of high school placements, more students are set to enter these schools next year. But the numbers are still extremely low. While there are now 23 students enrolled at Metropolitan Corporate Academy, the school traditionally saw an incoming freshman class of between 70 and 100 students. Many of these schools still have enrollments too low for them to support a ninth grade program. If the city does not assign them more students, they could be forced to phase out their ninth grades, skirting the court's ruling that the schools should remain intact. A spokesman for the Department of Education said the city expects the enrollment numbers to climb.
June 16, 2010
Saved from closure, a Queens high school faces phase-out
When a judge ruled in favor of keeping open 19 schools that the city had targeted for closure, it appeared that the teachers union had won its case. But for at least one of the schools, under-enrollment could spell closure anyway. Jamaica High School in Queens is currently looking at an incoming class of 23 ninth grade students, according to minutes taken during a meeting between the school's principal and union chapter leader. If more students don't enroll, the high school will not be able to offer a ninth grade next year, which is what would have happened under the city's original plan to phase out the school. A portion of the minutes reads: Mr. Acham said that our expected number of students for the fall would be between 850 and 900 pupils and not close to 1400 that we currently are enrolling. He added that the number of incoming grade nine students who have made a full commitment to Jamaica High School for this fall was only 23 and this number was down from a potential incoming class of merely 60. Therefore, the Principal concluded that we do not have a sufficient number of freshmen to run our programs. A spokesman for the Department of Education, Danny Kanner, said Jamaica's enrollment numbers would likely go up, but would not offer an explanation of how this would happen or how many students had been matched with the school's ninth grade next year.
March 26, 2010
Court overturns closures of 19 city schools, city will appeal
A school board vote to close 19 city schools is "null and void," according to a decision handed down by a state Supreme Court justice today. The bombshell decision leaves the fate of all 19 schools and their staffs up in the air and could force the Department of Education to rewrite arguments for why they deserve to be shut down. The ruling is the first time a court has interpreted the new mayoral control law Albany put in place last summer. A lawyer for the city, Michael Cardozo, said the Department of Education would appeal the decision. "We are disappointed by today's ruling, which, unless it is reversed, requires the Department of Education to keep open schools that are failing our children," Cardozo said.
January 25, 2010
Independent video showcases Jamaica HS teachers' concerns
After hearing about Jamaica High School's proposed closure, former New York Times multimedia producer Monica Evanchik was inspired to seek out stories from some of the school's teachers.
January 8, 2010
Jamaica and Columbus High School supporters pack hearings
Parents, teachers and alumni cheer on the testimony of a Jamaica High School supporter at a public hearing on the plan to close the school last night. From Queens to Brooklyn, hundreds of teachers, students, and alumni poured into auditoriums last night to defend their high schools from closure. In Queens, supporters of Jamaica High School turned out in droves for the public hearing, a meeting also attended by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and some of the Department of Education's top brass. The arguments against phasing out Jamaica and replacing it with several small schools in the same building were similar to those voiced at a question-and-answer session with DOE officials held at the school last month, which also drew an angry crowd. When one speaker pointed out Walcott's presence in the back of the auditorium, audience members rose from their seats, turned around to face him, and chanted, "Save Jamaica High School." The Queens representative on the Panel for Educational Policy, Dmytro Fedkowski, asked the DOE to postpone the board's vote on the proposals until the department releases more information about how the closure decisions were made.
December 21, 2009
Queens City Council members petition Klein to save schools
City Councilman David Weprin (right) signs a petition urging the DOE not to close 20 city schools. Councilman Eric Ulrich (left) plans to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein's office this afternoon. Members of the Queens City Council delegation called on Chancellor Joel Klein to abandon plans to close 20 city schools today. Standing on the steps of Tweed Courthouse and joined by colleagues representing other boroughs, Queens Council members accused the Department of Education of threatening to close schools without first trying to improve them or seeking community input. City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach, said the DOE did not notify his office before announcing its proposal to close Beach Channel High School. Ulrich is circulating a petition signed by nearly all of the Queens Council members calling on the DOE to abandon its plans to close the borough's schools. Ulrich said he intended to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein's office this afternoon. (He jokingly said he might nail it to the doors of Tweed.) Many of the 11 Council members and members-elect who attended the news meeting called for discussions with parents, community leaders, and the teachers union about how to improve struggling schools before resorting to closure.
December 17, 2009
Hundreds turn out to protest plans to close Jamaica High School
Hundreds of Queens residents filled the school's auditorium. Many had graduated from Jamaica or could name family members who had. An event billed as a question and answer session about the proposed closure of Jamaica High School quickly became a pep rally for the school's supporters last night. Hundreds of angry students, parents, and teachers packed Jamaica's auditorium last night to protest the Department of Education's plan to close the school. Chants of "Save our school" and "Four more years" could be heard blocks away and department officials had to fight to explain per-pupil funding and the school's phase-out plan over waves of boos and shouts. One of several large high schools marked for closure, Jamaica has struggled in recent years with low graduation rates and a high number of students who have learning disabilities or are recent immigrants and don't speak English. In its proposal, which the Panel for Educational Policy will vote on in January, the DOE says it plans to replace Jamaica with two small high schools. Built in 1927, the school has graduated generations of Queens residents, many of whom turned up last night to defend their alma mater. Many who spoke accused the DOE of underfunding Jamaica while "dumping" some of the most difficult to educate students on its doorstep.
December 3, 2009
Jamaica HS union leader says teachers saw closure coming
James Eterno, Jamaica High School's UFT chapter leader. (<em>GothamSchools Flickr</em>) The head of the union chapter at Jamaica High School said teachers there have been expecting the school's closure for years and criticized the city for planning to open new small schools without offering help to the struggling large one. James Eterno, a history teacher at Jamaica for 24 years, said teachers anticipated bad news after the school received a D on its progress report this year. But signs that the 1,500-student high school was in trouble had been apparent for years, he said. In 2007, Jamaica was placed on a citywide list of schools labeled "persistently dangerous," and letters were sent home to students and parents informing them of the designation. Enrollment dropped, Eterno said, and when Jamaica became the last choice of eighth-grade students applying to high schools, a new population of students who were less enthusiastic about school entered the school. (Eterno laid out this story in a community section post about Queens high schools back in September.) Of the school's roughly 500 ninth grade students, slightly less than half did not apply to the school but were placed there after they moved to Queens, sometimes from other countries and knowing little English, Eterno said. "What [the city] should have done and what they could have done was to give us the funding, let us lower class size, let us have reasonable guidance caseloads and let us see if it works," Eterno said. "Then if it doesn't work, then you can make the case to close us down."
September 10, 2009
It was the most crowded of times, and the least crowded of times
There’s something wrong if one school is severely overcrowded and another, just two miles away, is cutting services because of declining enrollment, writes teacher Arthur…
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