A town hall meeting to discuss the “co-location” of J.H.S. 144 has left parents, teachers and members of the community with few answers to their questions.
The meeting held on Monday, March 5 at the school, yielded a turnout of some 120 people and allowed the public to comment on a proposal by the DOE to co-locate a new school, 11X566, in the same building at J.H.S 144.
The DOE plans to reduce enrollment at the school as an academic intervention strategy to help it enhance its student performance. DOE records indicate the school has received poor progress reports in recent years.
The plan to reduce enrollment, over a three-year period, would permit a new school to be co-located in the building, but has left teachers and community members wondering why the DOE would rather reduce enrollment and bring in another school rather than look for ways to improve the school as it now stands.
“Parent’s, teachers, community members, as well as myself all asked questions but received no response from the DOE,” said Karlene Turner, sixth grade science teacher at J.H.S. 144. “We all wanted to know if the school is co-located, how will this help our school to improve? Will the new school get all of the new resources while we get nothing?”
Turner said the teachers and parents who were present at the meeting were mostly concerned for the students of J.H.S. 144.
“It’s really about the children,” Turner said. “When they put two schools in there, space will have to be shared. It will also limit the amount of space. Classrooms that were used for students to learn in will have to be used for new administration offices.”
Turner said she was also concerned that class size would increase with a co-location.
According to Turner, DOE gave no response to questions asked, nor did they make any comments.
“Members of the community came out and said there is no need for a new school,” she said. “They suggested that the DOE help the school to grow better and give it all of the resources they need.”
Jeff Donn, a seventh grade science teacher at the school, said he thought that the people who spoke out at the meeting were passionate and brought up great points.
“My concern was that there were no answers by the DOE to these points,” Donn said. “Parents, students, teachers and people in the community had great questions and points, but answers were never addressed. I am hopeful the DOE comes to their senses and realizes that when they did this to other schools, that the ‘new’ schools, for the most part, are failing. An example in the Bronx would be J.H.S. 135 and 142. With one bad year on the quality review over the past several years, it is surprising and ridiculous that the DOE considers this a failing school.”
Arthur Weiner, a school social worker at J.H.S. 144, said 100 percent of the people who showed up at the meeting were against the co-location of the school.
“The specific question I addressed was how the newly created school would compare with J.H.S. 144 in terms of it’s identity, its purpose and its mission,” Weiner said. “Most specifically, I was questioning whether the new school would offer the full complement of special education programs that J.H.S. 144 offers. What we are hoping is this testimony will be presented to the Parent Education Panel and they will vote based on this testimony.”
The panel for Education Policy will consider and vote on the proposal on Wednesday, March 21 at 6 p.m. at the High School of Fashion Industries, located at 225 W. 24th Street in Manhattan.