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Comrie slams plans to close high school

Following the decision last week to close the Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School in the Campus Magnet school building, City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) blamed the city Department of Education for not committing enough resources to the struggling school.

“I don’t think they focused on the right rubrics to turn it around,” Comrie said in a phone interview Tuesday of the DOE, saying the agency should have introduced additional school hours, mandatory tutoring and counseling services for under-performing children at the Cambria Heights school at 207-01 116th Ave.

Comrie also said the junior high schools did not prepare students to succeed at the school.

“The kids are severely under-educated at the beginning. Kids are coming in with a sixth-grade education in the ninthgrade,” he said. “You’ve got a frustrated child.”

While Comrie said the city “had more justification” to close Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High than Jamaica HS, he still did not agree with the decision last week to close the Cambria Heights school.

“I still don’t agree with this rampant closing and reorganizing of schools,” he said.

Comrie also said the principal of the school left last year, which had a demoralizing effect on teachers.

“The staff there just got discouraged and unfocused and there’s not the same kind of energy there.”

While the DOE could not be reached about its plans to replace Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship HS, Comrie said the agency wants to install a principal who will set up a new school focused on literacy, ethics and a design program that will feature new technologies.

“They plan to put a similar-type, technology-based program in there,” he said of the Cambria Heights school.

The DOE cited falling graduation rates, a decline in the school’s progress report and “significant dissatisfaction” expressed by parents, teachers and students as its rationale to close the school.

In 2007-08, the Cambria Heights school had a 62 percent graduation rate, followed by a 57 percent graduation rate in 2008-09.

The agency’s proposal was finalized last week by the city Panel for Education Policy, which ordered the closure of Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship HS along with 18 other city schools, including Jamaica HS and Beach Channel HS in the Rockaways.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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