Waterbury-LaSalle’s P.S. 14 gets a big A

Dennis Walcott took questions at a CEC 8 meeting at P.S. 14 on October 9.

P.S. 14 is back on top.

The Waterbury-LaSalle school jumped from an overall grade of a D on its Department of Education progress report for the 2010-11 academic year to an A on the 2011-12 academic year report.

School principal Ira Schulman replaced principal Jason Kovac in January 2011 amid charges from some teachers that Kovac’s style lead to the departure of many veteran teachers and staff with institutional knowledge.

School Chancellor Dennis Walcott, at a Community Education Council 8 meeting at the school on Tuesday, October 9, applauded the jump in the school’s overall rating.

In a brief interview, he attributed the success to the collaboration and teamwork among the administration, teachers and parents.

“Good leadership makes a big difference,” he said. “And working together makes a big difference – keeping the focus on their students.”

He said about 86% of schools change one letter grade or less on their progress reports year-over-year.

“There are some schools that do extremely well, and there are some that unfortunately go the other way.”

P.S. 14 scored an A in 2011-12 for improvements on student performance on state tests in English and Math, a B measuring the overall results of state standardized tests in 2012 in English and Math, and an A for school environment.

The school got an overall score of 72.1 – higher than or equal to 89% of public elementary schools for 2011-12.

The numbers stand in stark contrast to the prior school year when P.S. 14 got an overall D rating, with an F on student progress on English and Math scores from 2010 to 2011, a D on the overall grades of English and Math state test scores, and a C for school environment. It got an overall score of a C in 2009-10.

“It was a failing school. Teachers were leaving. There was like a mutiny,” CEC District 8 president Bob Franklin said of the turmoil of the previous two years. “Over 20 teachers left the school.”

He said P.S. 14 ranked fourth out of 38 comparable schools this year in District 8, which runs from Hunts Point and Soundview to Castle Hill and Throggs Neck.

The progress report from 2011-2012 ranked it a “developing” school in Quality Review based on three major categories: instruction that prepares students for college and careers, school organization and management, and quality of the learning environment, with an overall score of 66 out of 100.

Principal Schulman declined to be interviewed for this article.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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