On Monday October 28, 2013 there will be a Rally at the Joint Public Hearing at
5:30PM at IS 49, 101 Warren Street, Staten Island, NY 10304
There is currently a proposal on the table. “Mr. Portelos, do you mean the proposal to put you back in the classroom, finish the investigation on financial misconduct and arrest all those responsible for covering it up?” No, not that proposal. There is a proposal to take space away from IS 49 and give it to an all boys school called Eagle Academy (IS 28). That other proposal is for another post, but thanks for asking.
The proposal to place a 6-8 grade all boys school (IS 28) into the existing space of IS 49 is here: Education Impact Statement. There will be a Joint Public Hearing at IS 49 on October 28, 2013 and the NYC DOE Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will be voting on it two days later, October 30, 2013. Location and Info here.
“But Mr. Portelos, aren’t you knee deep in investigations, familial obligations and 3020-a termination hearing? Perhaps you should focus on those things. ”
Look, you are here reading this on my site because I cared. I won’t stop caring about my community. You may only know of me because I spoke out almost two years ago. I made a commitment to try to move IS 49 from the 939th spot to number 1 (See http://occupywarrenstreet.org/). That goal has never wavered. I have had more obstacles thrown in my way than most. Especially by the same people hired to protect and educate our children. I can stand and fight alone or with an army behind me, but I sleep at night knowing I stood for something. “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
In any case, I have been back and forth with the idea of Eagle academy coming into IS 49. Is it good? Is it bad? If good, how good and at what cost? I have contacted Eagle Academy many times, but no response. That is not good. You don’t come into my neighborhood to set up shop, squeeze out a mom and pop shop and not introduce yourself. Sure they have done a great job of touring our building, visiting our local churches and community boards, but when I extended an invitation to meet with the educators and parents of the school they might be moving into I was told. “Mr. Banks (CEO of Eagle Academy) is already meeting with Principal Linda Hill.” Oh OK. Pheww. Eagle Academy is meeting with Principal Hill, who only allocates 2 minutes to the topic at a faculty conference and overall little information to staff and community. We should be good then.
Let’s get into some information about existing IS 49 and you tell me if condensing it into two floors helps or hinders the children and community.
Number 1: History of Violence and Incidents at IS 49
Remember that there are only 180 school days in a school year. In 2012 there was an average of 7.12 reportable incidents a day. Staff in the building, not afraid to speak up, would tell you that the number is actually higher, but not all incidents were reported.
In 2012-13 staff used the word “Lawlessness” when they called or text me.
On April 19, 2013 seven parents and students were arrested on school grounds during a riot. You might call that crazy, but to us, we call that Friday. You can again ask the staff, that NYPD squad cars parked on our sidewalk is a normal situation that we used to pass them without giving a second look. Don’t worry though. During a June 6, 2012 Town Hall meeting, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott responded to a parent “We are aware of the issues at IS 49 and are working closely with Tweed to resolve them.” I think what they meant is “Continue to neglect the school and community, so enrollment continues to drop, and we can squeeze in another school.”
That brings us to our next point.
Number 2: Enrollment Decline
I was at a July 8, 2013 District 31 Community Education Council. I listened to the representatives from Portfolio Planning state “IS 49 has been on the NYC DOE Underutilized List for years”. I responded with “If I was a restaurant owner and I saw the number of customers coming in decline, wouldn’t I do something about it?” I mean I wouldn’t cut the kitchen in half and open up an Arby’s in part of the space. I might think about firing the manager or chef or do something.
Correct me if I am wrong, but hasn’t the population of Staten Island been increasing? Our school used to have 1,200 students. The new PS 71 only opened up this past September taking some of our 6th graders. I didn’t like that the NYC DOE was fully aware of this problem…for years.
In this case we can see how the NYC DOE Portfolio Planning can propose to fill the extra space with another school. There is no denying there are some empty classrooms, but the logistics of how this can work is a little concerning.
Number 3: Logistics of Co-Locating
When I asked where will Eagle Academy go, the DOE and everyone else responded “We don’t know yet.” I believe the picture above is the one that makes the most sense. I mean bisecting IS 49 with Eagle Academy in the middle doesn’t make much sense and it’s either top or bottom floor. Bottom floor would mean that the smaller Eagle Academy gets the large main office and the School of One. However, Eagle Academy taking the top floor takes away two brand new science labs from IS 49. Either way it seems to have the logistical nightmare potential that affects most co-locations.
“OK class…let’s head to the school yard for this rocket propulsion experiment. OK, never mind another school is using the yard – the Auditorium – the Cafeteria -the Gymnasium etc.”
Number 4: Educating the Influx from the New Stapleton Homeport
We are going to have a lot of neighbors soon. Ground has already been broken for a 35 acre residential and shopping area just 1 mile from IS 49. We can’t deny that IS 49 has some extra space, but with Eagle Academy taking up that space, where does that leave the middle school children coming from that 400 apartment complex? Oh overcrowding classrooms? Yeah, that works well.
Number 5: An All Boys School in a Co-Ed Building
“It’s very difficult to create an all-boys culture inside of a co-ed school.” David Banks, Eagle Academy CEO, February 2012
Need I say more? If you want, we can talk about the troubled girls that need support in our community. Do we have to pull up the statistics? Will an all boys school help the girls in this in this community. See video of riot from April 2013. video students posted online
We will be adding to this post as new information comes in.
Some questions that have been emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org :
- What will happen with the three existing academies at IS 49?
- Will IS 49 still have 5 administrators?
- Will the School Safety Staff be shared?
I want to finish off by saying:
“I am a father of two boys, living 1.2 miles from IS 49 and I wholeheartedly welcome Eagle Academy in to my community….just not into my school building.” There are other solutions. Ms. Ades, I agree that our children have a choice, I just don’t think this set up will work.
Number 6: Stats from Other Eagle Academy Schools
Progress reports for other Eagle Academy schools are not that great: Click the links below, then click Progress Reports and Registry. Shows demographics of special ed and general ed. Shows Report Card Grades.
UPDATE: I found two old emails from Principal Linda Hill. November 2009 and June 2010. Both mention Eagle Academy and our school. Was this planned for some time now?
1. November 29, 2009
Dates to remember:
December 2nd Visitor to IS 49 from the Eagle Academy. Please have your classrooms ready”
(The same people co-locating were visiting us three years ago?)
2. June 24, 2010
An email to former Superintendent Margaret Schultz from Principal Hill:
“Finally, as per our conversation, I would like to notify you of the following workshop that I would like to attend during the summer:
Eagle Academy (boys of color) workshop with David Banks (I spoke of this with Santi when he came to visit the other day) July 7 – 10th”
So it doesn’t surprise me that she is for the co-location.