Bronx renewal schools protest possible closing

Students at M.S. 145 in Morrisania held up signs protesting the possible closing of their school. The school has a very high population of ELL students.
Community News Group/Arthur Cusano

Students at a Morrisania middle school facing closure held a march at the end of the school day last week hoping to draw attention to what they say is unfair targeting by the NYC Department of Education.

J.H.S. 145 Academy For Creative Education and the Arts, also known as the Arturo Toscanini school after the famed Italian composer, is among nine schools citywide in the renewal school program that will either be shuttered or merge with other schools after failing to meet benchmark goals assigned in 2014.

English teacher James Donohue said prior to the Thursday, February 16 march the students themselves wanted to do something to draw attention to their plight ahead of the first joint public hearing scheduled for March 6. The vote on whether to close the school will be held March 22.

Two other Bronx renewal schools, Leadership Institute in Claremont Village, Monroe Academy for Visual Arts and Design in Soundview, both high schools, are also facing possible closure.

Another school, the Young Scholars Academy middle school in Willamsbridge, may be merged with another school at the same location.

“Parents are upset that the classrooms they are in right now are probably going to end up belonging to a charter school on the same floor,” Donohue said.

“I think they find it upsetting that there is uncertainty, that they don’t know where their sixth or seventh grader will be next year, and to know the very rooms that they are sitting in this year will be given to someone else next year is upsetting to them, ”he added.

That charter school is Success Academy Bronx 3 Upper, one of a growing number of charter schools founded by Eva Moskowitz that dot the city.

While that school also educates middle school aged children, none of MS 145’s students can be admitted to the school due to strict rules against admitting students over the fourth grade level.

Two other middle schools in the renewal school program call the large building at 1000 Teller Avenue home: X.S. 328 New Millennium Business Academy and X 325 Urban Science Academy.

While one solution would be to admit MS 145 students into those two schools, that solution isn’t as simple as it would seem.

Parents would have to apply to the schools and wait for the principals to admit them if they meet the admissions criteria, which could be a difficult task for many of the special needs students.

The DOS has told parents they will work closely with families of students from the closing and contracting schools to find a higher-performing school that meet their needs.

But Parent Association president Annagine Lois said despite having improved test scores and registration rates higher than other community schools at the site, the school has not gotten the support it needs for its 290 students.

She said parents believe the school is being targeted to benefit the neighboring charter school.

Lois cited the fact that the school does not have an English language learner teacher for its large ELL population, despite statements to the contrary on the school webpage.

“If we can do this with so little, imagine what we could do with more,” she said. How can they expect us to run a race without giving us the tools we need to get to the finish line?”

“They say our school is failing, but I think the Department of Education has failed us,” she said.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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