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City proposes two new schools located inside of Flushing HS

The city is proposing locating two new high schools inside Flushing High School.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The city Department of Education is proposing to slash enrollment at Flushing High School over the next four years and locate two additional high schools within its walls.

The DOE released a proposal Jan. 17 that detailed plans to place two new high schools housing about 450 students each within the building, at 35-01 Union St.

The population of the current high school, home to several academies and programs, is projected to dwindle from 3,032 students this year to just less than 2,200 students by the 2016-17 school year. The overall population at the school, now at about 150 percent capacity, is not expected to seriously fluctuate as the new schools are added.

One of the new high schools will be specially geared to Chinese-speaking students, according to the DOE.

The declining enrollment at Flushing may affect students now taking some of the elective course offerings there and will cut funding to the school. The DOE contends that the reduction will make the school easier to manage and could serve as an opportunity to improve.

“Flushing has struggled with low performance despite the considerable support that the DOE has offered to the school,” the proposal said. “As a result, there is a need to provide better options for families in the community.”

The DOE tried to close Flushing HS last year, but the action was stopped by a lawsuit. The city has not put Flushing back on any closure list so far this year.

But the idea is not winning over everyone outside the city administration, including Dmytro Fedkowskyj, a member of the DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy, which is set to vote on this proposal March 11.

He is the only member representing Queens who was not appointed by the mayor and said the city should instead give the current Flushing HS more resources to bolster its performance level. The school received a C grade in the 2009-10 school year, and two D grades in subsequent years.

“The DOE has made a decision to move forward with these proposals because they believe it will help Flushing High School, but I’m not convinced it will solve Flushing High School’s situation,” he said. “What they need is dedicated resources and time to turn themselves around under the new leadership of Principal Magdalen Radovich.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Brian Gavin from Ridgewood says:
I am writing in response to Joe Anuta's article on the potential collocation of two new schools in Flushing High School. The DOE's proposal has nothing to do with helping the students, the community, or improving the performance of overcrowded Flushing High School. This is part of a decade long failed program of closing high schools instead of supporting them with the resources they need to make a difference. Flushing was slated last year to be a "Turnaround School" and closed in retaliation for the failure of the DOE to reach agreement with the UFT on a new evaluation system for teachers, the same intransigence on DOE's part that led to a loss of nearly half a billion dollars in state aid in January. This plan failed because it was illegal; the arbitrator who ruled in the case cited Mayor Bloomberg's own testimony that DOE was planning to close the school not to improve it and obtain federal money but as a strategy to fire teachers http://gothamschools.org/2012/07/06/arbitrator-city-used-circular-reasoning-to-justify-turnarounds/. Cue the new strategy, which will harm the community, the students, and the staff of Flushing HS. Instead of supporting the school, they will make it suffer the death of a thousand cuts. First they will siphon off the best freshmen that would have attending Flushing, and the resources that would have accompanied them. Then, as time goes on, the resources will diminish and so will enrollment at Flushing, as the two new schools cannibalize its carcass. This happened most notably at Jamaica HS in Queens, but the scenario has played out elsewhere. What will happen over time? The students at Flushing will become second class citizens in their own school as they will find their library, computer, and other access to resources limited by the new schools. The teachers will be relegated to the ATR pool of wandering substitute teachers as the budget for Flushing HS shrinks, and due to financial disincentives they will not go into new vacancies but linger, wasting millions in resources. The performance of Flushing HS will drop as the best students and resources are parasitically removed and allocated to the new schools. Finally, Flushing will continue to struggle as part and parcel of the DOE's destructive self fulfilling prophesy. I urge the Flushing community to make your voices heard and rally against this disruptive action on the part of the DOE. No good will come of putting two new schools in one already overcrowded.
Feb. 18, 2013, 8:27 pm

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