The seven Queens schools that the city Panel for Educational Policy voted to close were given new names last week, but two western Queens legislators said they were more concerned with the future results of the closure.
“I understand the symbolic importance of changing the names of these schools, but it doesn’t make what happened any less frustrating or disappointing,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said in a statement.
In late April, the panel voted to shut multiple high schools across the city that had been classified as persistently lowest-achieving, which is defined as having graduation rates of less than 60 percent in previous years. In the closure, or “turnaround” model, the schools will be closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year with at least 50 percent new staff and a new name.
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced those names for the schools last Thursday. In western Queens, Long Island City High School, at 14-30 Broadway in Astoria, is now Global Scholars Academies of Long Island City; William Cullen Bryant HS, at 48-10 31st Ave. in Astoria, has had its name changed to Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at the William Cullen Bryant Campus; and Newtown HS, at 48-01 90th St. in Elmhurst, is now College and Career Academies HS at Newtown Campus.
Walcott said in a statement the new names, chosen by the institutions, honor the schools’ histories and a potential better future.
“This is an exciting day for thousands of students and their school communities, turning a page and looking ahead to a fresh start next fall,” Walcott said.
But state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), an alumna of Bryant HS who has both that school and the former Long Island City HS in her district, said the new names are the least pressing concern in the radical remake of the schools.
“The things that we should be focused on are the teachers that are going to be teaching at these schools and the feeling among students,” Simotas said.
The assemblywoman said it remains to be seen whether the closure will result in better test or graduation results. She also said the students have been hurt by the classification that they were attending a failing school.
“You can see the emotional strain that it has taken on them this school year,” Simotas said.
The new names for the borough’s other closed schools include the Future Leaders HS at the John Adams Campus, in Ozone Park; School of Opportunities at the August Martin Campus, in Jamaica; the 21st Century School of Richmond Hill; and the Rupert B. Thomas Academy at the Flushing Campus.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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