Bryant HS loses fight to stay open

Astoria's Bryant High School students Francisco Meneses, 17 and Marcela Poenaru, 14, tried rallying the community in an April 2011 protest to save their school from closure.
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Amid a struggle with its teachers union, the city Department of Education has announced plans to close Astoria’s William Cullen Bryant High School, a move western Queens lawmakers have criticized as politically motivated and destructive.

Citing poor academic performance, the DOE identified Bryant, at 48-10 31st Ave., as a persistently low achieving school for the 2010-11 school yearand, under a plan known as transformation, replaced the principal and began to implement institutional reforms. Last year, Bryant had a four-year graduation rate of 57 percent, which put it in the bottom 17 percent of city schools.

Under the transformation model, which is considered the least intrusive of the city’s models for struggling schools, Bryant was eligible for up to $1.8 million a year in federal funding, but the state started withholding that money after the United Federation of Teachers and the DOE failed to reach an agreement on a teacher evaluation system by Jan. 1.

In his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg disclosed his plan to place all of the city’s Persistently Lowest Achieving schools in the model known as turnaround, which closes the school and replaces more than half of the teachers as well as the principal, although Bryant’s principal would not necessarily be forced out because she is new under the turnaround program. The DOE anticipates this move will restore the federal funding.

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), a Bryant alumna, called the plan short-sighted, unnecessary and destructive. She said the DOE had a meeting with the community and decided the transformation model was the best fit.

“Last year after a rally, the Department of Education agreed to the least intrusive model,” she said. “The mayor all of a sudden turned 180 degrees. The school hasn’t even had the opportunity to show the results.”

At a meeting in Brooklyn, the controversial city Panel for Education Policy will vote April 26 on whether or not to close William Cullen Bryant, as well as Grover Cleveland HS in Ridgewood, at the end of the school year and replace it with a new school for 2012-13.

The PEP has never voted against closing a school. The DOE was also expected to announce plans to close Long Island City HS, at 14-30 Broadway.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) criticized the move as an extreme measure that would be detrimental to students.

“Children’s education should supersede political posturing, which only further disrupts students’ time in the classroom,” he said, adding it would be disruptive to replace teachers who have been working with students for years.

“By the time new people come in and get their feet wet and learn how to do their job, in any institution that takes time. The students there will suffer while the learning process takes place,” he added.

William Cullen Bryant will host a public hearing April 3 at 6 p.m.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 7:19 pm, March 7, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

taso from astoria says:
Good riddance
March 9, 2012, 2:11 pm
Victor from Park Slope says:
WHo cares! Queens sucks Brooklyn is where everyone wants to be!
March 9, 2012, 7 pm
Fotini from Astoria says:
Only an idiot would waste his time commenting on an article having to do with Queens schools when he had no intention of saying anything productive. As for the article... First Bryant and next LIC where are future Astoria/LIC kids going to go for a high school education?
March 10, 2012, 10:56 am
Carolina from Astoria says:
I went to L.I.C.H.S but I am very familiar with Bryant High School and the neighborhood is in. How dare they make these decisions that will hurt the teenagers of the area! Where are they supposed to go now. This part of Astoria/Woodside already struggles with violence and drugs so what choice are we giving our children?!! Are you kidding me?!! I'm am absolutely saddened by this!
March 10, 2012, 12:13 pm
Anthony from Woodside says:
The schools will reopen under different names. This is a political move to rid the school of it's bad apples as well as get federal funding. Let's face it, kids are not getting properly educated there.

Sorry, Victor, the only people who think Broklyn is the place to be are hood rats who dont work or think street life and getting a rep in the hood is the way to live!
March 11, 2012, 10:15 am
benji from queens says:
I have seen what goes on in that school, and agree with the Mayor. Give you an example, my son takes the English regents and the proctor a female read the passage with a very strong Spanish accent. My son barely understood her.
March 12, 2012, 9:24 pm
Madeline from Woodside says:
Your wrong Anthony ! Kids do get a education there. I graduate there and went on to Queens college. Closing it down would more harm then good. Where will all the kids go? Many of the high school are packed. Queens is the best! Even if you change the name of the school it will still been know as a bad school because people are afraid of the area. Well get over it, the area is good! Bryant needs to stay open.
March 12, 2012, 9:35 pm
Jim Mcc from Woodside says:
I graduated from Bryant, and then went on to graduate
from Fordham University with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science, Magna Cum Laude. There was a start up computer programming class at Bryant, and Joe Demco was the teacher. He was inspiring, and I thank him for getting me started in my career. This was the kind of program that was offered only in public schools at the time. The school is not the problem. What a shame kids don't think they need to learn anything anymore... everyone wants to have it handed to them.
March 13, 2012, 8:45 am
Donna from Richmond says:
I graduated from Bryant and have a sucessful career in business management. I fell Bryant H.S. is getting a bum deal. It's not the schools fault you can blame the teachers but have you looked at the students. Those who want to make something of themself will. Those who don't won't and place blame elsewhere.
March 18, 2012, 10:26 am
Benji from Queens says:
That was then,,, now ,most of these teachers dont care whether the kids pass or not.. i've been there lately and most of these kids are indian. the teacher here are the problem.. who hires a teachers with broken English and you have some that act tough with these kids... give these kids a brake an try a different approach. These kids are not given a chance or treated right. Its time to change the old ones and get new teachers and staff.
March 18, 2012, 10:11 pm
Judy Weber from Queens says:
I am a Bryant graduate who taught at Bryant until my retirement. It was a good school then. Closing it will only make things worse for the students. Bloomberg is a total failure as "education mayor".
March 21, 2012, 8:22 pm
Marius from Woodside says:
It is sad to know that that Bryant HS may be closing, I too was a graduate of Bryant in the late 90s. Let me just say that I do not know the city politics behind this, BUT if a school is failing, somehing must be done. Teachers, administrators and parents are responsible for failing these kids. Poor results need to be addressed and as harsh as it sounds or looks, perhaps now EVERYONE realizes how critical the HS is to this community. It is absolutely wrong to keep failing schools open, because ultimately the students are hurt in the long run. Let this be a lesson for all, that an education should be cherised, and not wasted. Parents, teachers, administrators, get off your butt and address our failing schools, because without a good education our nation will become a third world nation in the future and noone will benefit in our society.
March 28, 2012, 5:19 pm
cathy from staten Island says:
My kids went to that school years ago. Sorry it's closing.
March 28, 2012, 6:18 pm
Tehmeena from Carmel says:
I went to Bryant, so did my twin and my other sister. It is difficult to tell who to blame. At times I felt it was the teachers from personal experience. At the same time, I had some great teachers as well. Well I hope this is a learning experience for those who live around the area both for the parents and students to take some action that will help the neighborhood.
March 28, 2012, 9:42 pm
Tehmeena from Carmel says:
I went to Bryant, so did my twin and my other sister. It is difficult to tell who to blame. At times I felt it was the teachers from personal experience. At the same time, I had some great teachers as well. Well I hope this is a learning experience for those who live around the area both for the parents and students to take some action that will help the neighborhood.
March 28, 2012, 9:43 pm
HOWARD from Ocala, Florida says:
I entered Bryant High School in 1949 and enlisted in the U.S.Navy in 1952, but I never forgot the following words to the school song

Long Island City has a school where proud to call our own

And Bryant High School is its name, its very widely known

Its students are the best of all its teams you can't
out do

So send up all a rousing cheer for our dear old
gold and blue
May 13, 2012, 12:36 am
Habib from Irvine, CA says:
I graduated from Bryant HS. The diversity of the school is what made it special. The teachers are caring and understanding of the immigrant community it serves. I made great friends at this school who moved on and made great careers for themselves. The education system in this country needs reforming, but don't punish communities who depend on these schools who provide a beginning for many immigrants who come to this country. This schools serves the heart of Queens, it is centrally located. They are making a big mistake if the close this school who served so many people in Queens !
May 25, 2012, 6:52 am
Kelvin from Boston says:
It is a shame that they are closing the school !I graduated from this school !!
June 3, 2012, 4:23 pm
Sandy from Astoria says:
I too graduated from Bryant High School. It was a great experience for me. I learned about other cultures and had some very good teachers. I understand that things change, but why can't the problems be solved instead of closing down the school?
Dec. 22, 2012, 10:23 am
Lilly from Astoria says:
I am a freshman and looking at the high school I don't think they have close it down. They just have improve their ability in teaching, learning, habitats, etc. We should also change our ways of learning so it could be easy for us and the teachers. SO JUST GIVE THEM A CHANCE! A lot kids are in this high school because it zoned for our area. A lot of kids were sent to this high school so its not our fault we are there when everyone has good grades.
Dec. 31, 2012, 11:19 am
Marcos Calderon from Maryland says:
I went to Bryant from 77- 81, and by reading what's happened? i may be too late...BUT! i remember back in my time, it was no different. Just less expensive, let's get real, it's all about money. In my 12th year I had 12 classes and my photography teacher Mr David Sebold, came to ME? with a small problem. He was given a group of students he had to teach photography to. He was told? that they spoke english.....reality? these kids ONLY! spoke spanish. Mr. See as i called him back then. Came to me, to see if i could help him teach the class.(during my lunch period) i loved photography, told him i would love to. These kids my own age was listening to ME? i was amazed how they all learned and they ALL passed. Bryant teacher ALWAYS had this problem. This not new. it's sad that with All these educators, they still ignore these language problems. It's not the kids nor the teachers, it's the politics of the system. They think that shutting down Bryant and busing these kids to already over burden schools is gonna fix their budget.....REALLY? it didn't fix their budget back then, and it won't fix it now. Bryant should stand for what it was built for...EDUCATION. Maybe these words don't matter, but Bryant High School is and always be a part of me.....Marcos Calderon
Nov. 17, 2013, 6:47 pm
peter szep from astoria says:
went to lic class of 86 Bryant was always a joke even back then.
Feb. 4, 2014, 12:09 pm
Joan from Southern Illinois says:
6I lived in many places growing up, including Queens. I attended Bryant my sophmore year.

Imagine coming from a rural area where you have maybe a graduation class of maybe 200 students in a busy year to Bryant High! I missed lunch first day because. I couldn't fimd the cafetetia! It was an imtimidating experience for thos country gal

I do remember sdding cops in the halls occasionally and that was worrisome. Most of my teachers were okay with two exceptions. One was boring and therefore ineffectual
The other who taught science was a med school drop out or possibly he had neen booted out fie to spme dumb escapades he participated in then bragged about it to his students
What imho was even more inappropriate was him taking one of the boys into the boys bathroom next door
and slamming him into the metal stall repeatedly. Again very intimidating for me. The school made me think of a prison rather than a school. I was glad to leave there that summer. Just my humble opinion.

One last comment on schools today in general. It does not speak well of schools. Students or parents when teachers are encouraged to use ebonics when teaching so the students can understand what is being said. Cannot blame the students but can blame parents for not speaking English. I heard one teacher from S Illinois talking about severe floods up around e. St Louis area. She actually said in reference to the floods, "not worried about that. We on a hill!" Okay there is a teacher who does not know what verbs are for and yet she is allowed to teach our children???? Pathetic
March 16, 2014, 2:42 am
Joan from Southern Illinois says:
Please excuse all the typos above. It was sent frommy cellphone and I have fat fingers and poor eyesight.
March 16, 2014, 2:45 am
Sad from Queens says:
Public schools in NYC are crap. Shutting down this sorry excuse for a school will not solve the problem, unless they open a charter school in its place. Also not surprised but sorry to say that most people who commented on this article and who claim to be graduates of this school, are merely a reflection of the education they received. Look at all the spelling and grammar mistakes on the comments posted. Disgusting!
Aug. 3, 2014, 5:50 am
mam from relocated says:
proud to have graduated from wcb! my mother also went there- a big switch from a small school with sr class of less than 100 to my june class with more than 800! diversity- oppty- we had it all- the late 60's saw changes then too- my mother recalled naughty boys of the late 40's there- am sure not much changed in that regard- a lot of climbing- exercising all 5 floors! poor administration, less than stellar/ bad teachers- and troubled teens- then and now- but more politics now- it all comes down to greed, laziness and short sighted 'solutions' to immediate problems--- mgt by crisis... closing a building does not fix the school or help the students and certainly not the communities!
Aug. 24, 2015, 3:38 pm
Paul J. Lundrigan, PhD. '54 from one block down from WCBHS says:
I graduated from JHS 10 Queens from a Special Progress class. Went to WCBHS and I acted in plays, sang in the chorus, ran track (Cross-country, indoor and outdoor), was on the Audio-Visual team. I graduated "Out the Door in '54"and went on to college at the Bronx campus of Hunter College for only one year because I had to get a job and help out at home. When my mother got a job (tough to do in those days), I started back in night school and eventually went into the US Air Force as a Radio/Radar Repairman. As I was on the grave shift, I had time to go back to college on my off-duty hours. At Wesley College in Dover Delaware I played on their football team, co-edited the campus magazine (NGOGN), performed in and designed scenery, costumes and lighting for plays not only by the college, but also the local community theater. In fact, I won an award for scenery I designed for Shaw's "Joan of Arc" I also played the part of the Inquisitor, Caucon. After an Honorable Discharge after four years in the USAF, I went back to Hunter College, and got a BA in theater. After graduation I went through a number of good jobs and saw I wanted my life to go a different way. Consequently, I went to Brooklyn College and came away with a Master of Fine Arts in Scenery, Costume and Lighting Design. Several years followed where I taught Theater at several different colleges and finally enrolled at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and received my PhD. in Theater with majors in Acting, Directing and Speech Communication. At all three of those colleges I was awarded Assistantships and, along with my wife's RN, those assistantships helped keep my wife and three children above water. Since that time, I have been Chairman of the Fine Arts Department at High Point College, NC, Director of the Teacher Licensure Program in Theater at UNC-Charlotte (I have been licensed for K-12 Theater in NC). Currently, I'm retired and yet still do theater for local groups, directing, designing and conducting theater classes of all kinds for youngsters and teens; most recently a demonstration in Stage Combat (via my certification as an Actor-Combatant by the Society of American Fight Directors). I give great credit to my schooling at P.S. 151, J.H.S. 10 and WC Bryant HS for giving me all, maybe even more, than I needed to succeed in life.
Feb. 14, 5:27 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

CNG: Community Newspaper Group