Today’s news:

Long Island City HS in danger of closing

Consistently low graduation rates at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood and Long Island City High School and Newtown High School in Elmhurst have placed all three institutions on the list for state and federal funding that would either completely make over the schools or close them entirely.

The state-issued list of 57 schools with graduation rates below 60 percent or consistently low scores on state English and math exams was released last Thursday. It includes 10 schools in Queens.

The others are Queens Vocational Technical High School in Long Island City, Flushing High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Beach Channel High School, Richmond Hill High School, John Adams High School in South Ozone Park and Jamaica High School.

Newtown’s four-year graduation rate for the 2008-09 school year was 52.6 percent, according to city Department of Education statistics. LIC High’s was 56.1 percent.

Grover Cleveland HS’s was 54 percent. None of the schools had state test scores low enough to make the list alone.

The city is now waiting for the state to set a deadline for deciding how to address the problem schools. Their options include redesigning the schools, converting them to charter schools, leaving the current school structure in place while state funds are devoted to improving student statistics or closing the schools outright.

“We intend to engage in a planning process with the state for all the schools on the state’s turnaround list,” city DOE spokesman Danny Kanner said. “We will consider all of those [options] in order to maximize the funding.”

State Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) had scheduled a public information session at Newtown Wednesday night.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s (D-Jackson Heights) office has scheduled a meeting with Newtown HS staff. Dromm said he opposed closing the school.

“In general, my impression of Newtown has been that ... people were happy with Newtown and I have not heard any problems,” Dromm said, praising the state DOE for informing his office when the report was to be released. “I hope they’ll let us in on what the decision making process is.”

The state DOE will provide approximately $500,000 in federal funds to districts for each school that implements an intervention.

“Districts are being given an opportunity to use federal funding to provide focused, concentrated resources to help schools improve English language arts and mathematics performance and increase graduation rates,” Education Commissioner David Steiner said in a statement. “I expect districts to develop aggressive, innovative plans that they will implement in ways that will make a profound difference in the outcomes for their students.”

Last year 62 Queens schools were listed by the state as “in need of improvement” based on federal No Child Left Behind Act standards. Newtown High School has been on the list for seven years now. Grover Cleveland has been on the list for six years.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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