Flushing High School was named as one of three low-performing Queens high schools to be given more than $1 million in federal funds to improve their performance.
Flushing and Long Island City high schools will both receive $1.8 million apiece and Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City will get more than $1.3 million out of the $19.8 million city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced Thursday that the city Department of Education has secured from the state for the program, which got the funds from the federal government.
“Thanks to these federal dollars, we’re bringing great mentor teachers to struggling schools, putting in place innovative curriculum reforms and extended learning time and strengthening supports for English language learners and students with disabilities,” Klein said.
The Obama administration’s School Improvement Grants Fund requires states and localities to identify their bottom 5 percent of schools and implement one of four school improvement models for each. The three Queens schools, along with eight others in the city, were chosen for the “transformation” turnaround model.
State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said she is glad to hear the school is receiving the funds, but added that there is a lot of work ahead to improve Flushing HS.
“Everyone needs to work together to ensure the money is well spent and, most importantly, that results and numbers go up so that the school will not be in danger of being on any potential lists of closings in the future,” Meng said. “In the end, we need to get the job done.”
The city’s transformation model will reward highly effective teachers through an evaluation system, allowing the schools’ principals to attract and retain top-notch faculty. The schools’ principals have already hired proven teachers who received 15 percent to 30 percent bonuses in exchange for working in the identified schools.
Other strategies — including leadership changes, the use of data to identify and implement effective instruction for students, an intensive approach to address the social and emotional needs of all students and partnerships with community groups — are also being used to help increase performance at the schools.
Last year, three underperforming high schools in the borough — Jamaica High, Beach Channel High and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship Magnet High School, located at Campus Magnet High in Queens Village — were ordered to be shut down and replaced with smaller schools on the same campuses.
The move was blocked by a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers, but Beach Channel and Jamaica were ultimately forced to share their spaces with other schools at the beginning of the school year.
Over the next two years, the three schools that learned last week they will be given funding will be eligible for additional grant funding if they can demonstrate progress in implementing the transformation plans.
There are 23 other city schools that have been identified by the state as persistently low-achieving, and the city is currently deciding which of the other three federal school improvement models — turnaround, restart or closure — is the best fit for each of those schools.
At that point, those remaining schools will become eligible for millions of dollars of funding. The state will also release an updated list of persistently lowest-achieving schools in the coming weeks, providing the opportunity for more schools to receive federal school improvement grants.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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