Friday, March 2, 2007

Battle for Halsey Junior High School

It's hard to believe but Chancellor Klein has picked yet another fight with parents, teachers and politicians by attempting to force a new school into a building with an existing school. This time, his sights are set on Halsey Junior High School in Rego Park, Queens.

WABC TV covers the story here and NY1 here

The worst part is that Halsey will be forced to give up space to accommodate the new school's requirement to have small class sizes. From the ABC report:
Word is the new school, Civic Leadership Academy, would feature smaller class size. Officials say there would be 20 per class, in comparison with the 35 or more per class currently attending Halsey. To squeeze in the additional 500 students, Halsey students would lose specialty rooms like computer labs and extracurricular offices.
Other schools have faced and defeated these DoE invasions. At NEST+m (Lower East Side), PS36 and PS154 (both Harlem) well-organized efforts by parents, teachers, administrators and elected representatives kept their successful schools from being overcrowded by charters or new magnet schools.

All our kids need smaller class sizes, not just those in new schools and charters. Instead of cramming our kids on top of each other, the Chancellor should work to restore existing facilities and build new schools. In this case, WABC reports there is an empty school building nearby Halsey.

Queens politicans have a reputation as tough and stalwart defenders of their public schools. Recently, Councilmembers John Liu and Melinda Katz took DoE to task for the failures of the small schools initiative. With Councilmember Katz already going to bat for Halsey, look for this to be a real fight.

Update: See the article from the Queens Chronicle.

Further update: DoE backs down. See story in the Queens Ledger


Anonymous said...

3/30/07 - Mr. Harries, a representative from the DOE's Dept. of New Schools just announced Friday morning that the DOE is no longer seeking to host the Civic Leadership Academy at Halsey JHS157 in Queens. Thank you Mr. Harries for your prompt decission to pull this "proposal" (wink wink).

As for putting high shools in middle school buildings, I would suggest that the DOE follow their own guidelines that suggest they include the community leaders, parent and teachers before announcing their plans to do so.

What lessons did we learn from dealing with the DOE... Be fair, be reasonable, challenge everything, hold them (DOE) accountable for their actions and as one parent said, "DON'T LET THEM SLEEP!"

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