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Parents fret over Flushing High School’s uncertain future

Flushing High School’s listing on the state’s persistency lowest achieving school list two weeks ago has worried parents, students and teachers that the long-running campus would suffer the same fate as Jamaica High and other institutions that will be shut down in the fall.

After meeting with the administrators and looking at the school’s academic performance over the last few years, Flushing elected officials at the state and city level said they are confident the campus will not only be off the list, but thriving for years to come.

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) along with state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) said they spoke with the high school’s principal, Cornelia Gutwein, Friday morning and there were no immediate plans to close it down.

“We want to make sure that the community has the right message,” Meng said during a news conference at her office after the meeting.

Last month, Flushing HS, one of the oldest schools in the city, was placed on the state’s list along with nine other high schools in the borough for having a four-year graduation rate lower than 60 percent, according to Stavisky, a former history teacher at the school.

Other schools that made the list included Queens Vocational Technical High School, August Martin High, Richmond Hill High, John Adams High, Beach Channel High and Jamaica High.

Beach Channel and Jamaica will be shut down and replaced with smaller high schools in the fall by the city Department of Education.

Stavisky, who sits on the Senate Education Committee, said Flushing barely missed being put on the list since its graduation rate last year was 57 percent. Statistics over the last decade tell a different story, according to the senator.

In 2006, the promotion rate for ninth-graders was 20 percent, but that increased to 60 percent two years later, according to Stavisky.

“How did they do it? They doubled the English programs and improved the guidance programs,” she said.

The elected officials also said the school, which has a 96 percent minority population, has many students who are taking English as a Second Language classes and needed more time to complete their high school degrees.

Koo said he will be speaking with the Council Education Committee and will push for the school to remain open. Meng said her office will be doing all it can to make sure Flushing keeps improving and will let the DOE know Flushing High is here to stay.

“We want to take the offense on this. We don’t want what happened to Jamaica High School to happen here,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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