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DOE to close Kennedy

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The Department of Education has released a proposal for the phase-out and replacement of Kennedy High School and five other high schools throughout the borough.

DOE released an overview of the plan to phase out of John F. Kennedy High School at 99 Terrace View Avenue, School for Community Research and Learning at 1980 Lafayette Avenue, the Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men at 240 E. 172nd Street, Performance Conservatory High School at 1619 Boston Road, and Monroe Academy for Business and Law High School at 1300 Boyton Avenue, along with two others. Hearings will be held in early 2012 with the school communities about replacement plans.

The shuttering of Kennedy marks the end of an era because it was the last remnant of what once was a large high school that included all the seats in the educational campus it now shares with four other small, specialized high schools.

Calling the decision to close the schools “the most difficult decision that we make,” the DOE stated that it will shutter Kennedy because its four-year graduation rate is 46%, below the city average of 63%, and because it got an overall D grade on its 2009-10 progress report.

Councilman Oliver Koppell said that what was happening was part of an effort to improve the quality of education for all students. The seats will still be there, Koppell explained, but a smaller school, that could be more effective, will be put in its place.

“When you close a school, it is really a funny kind of thing, because what you are really doing is reorganizing the school,” Koppell said. “The space and seats are going to be there for students. The fact of the matter is, the place called Kennedy High School is not working well, and the place that we used to call John F. Kennedy High School has been broken up into five smaller schools. The part that is still called Kennedy is not working well. The four other small schools in the building are doing well.”

There has been a drain off, Koppell said,of more motivated and ambitious students away from Kennedy, which remained after four new-smaller schools began educating young people on the campus: BETA, Bronx Theatre, Bronx Law and Finance, and Marble High School for International Studies,

Community Research and Learning has a graduation rate of 53% and received an overall D on its 2009-10 progress report, Urban Assembly for History and Citizenship for Young Men has a graduation rate of 43% and received an overall F on its progress report. The Performance Conservatory had a graduation rate of 49% and received an F progress report, and Monroe Academy graduated 54% of its students and received an overall progress report score of a C on its 2009-10 progress report.

“We can’t continue to ask parents to send their children to schools where they won’t learn basic skills or get a diploma,” said Joe Williams, of Education Reform Now, a non-profit organization that supports the Bloomberg Administra­tion’s plans to open smaller schools to replace larger, underperforming schools. “Each of these schools should have been replaced years ago. The DOE should move as quickly as possible to create better options for families in these neighborho­ods.”

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