Thursday, February 11, 2016

Plan would turn Clinton into educational campus

By Sarina Trangle

DeWitt Clinton will soon share space with two new schools if the Department of Education gets its way.

The DOE announced Jan. 18 that it plans to turn the Mosholu Parkway South building into the Clinton Educational Campus. According to the proposal, the two new public high schools would start taking ninth-grade students next fall and add one grade level each year until their enrollments are each between 420 and 460. Meanwhile, Clinton’s enrollment would be scaled down from about 3,630 to 2,250 students over the next four years.

According to the DOE’s educational impact statement, the new schools would gradually grow to use 16 full-size classrooms. Clinton would hand over the building’s 125 full-size classrooms until it only uses 75 by the 2016-2017 school year. The schools would share large spaces, such as three gyms, a cafeteria, an auditorium, a library, a dance room and a pool.

Whether any of Clinton’s six academic programs would be reduced or cut would be left up to the school’s administration, which will consider student demand, staffing and budgetary constraints, according to the educational impact statement.

Although Clinton was spared from the DOE’s official list of schools to be phased out or closed come fall, Clinton teachers say the proposal will leave the school battling for space and with a more limited budget, since a portion of schools’ funding is doled out on a per-student basis.

Alan Ettman, one of the school’s English teachers and its United Federation of Teachers chapter leader, said he knows firsthand that shrinking schools doesn’t fix them.

He said he learned that lesson when he taught at Walton High School from 1984 to 2005. Walton graduated its last class in 2008, after new schools were co-located in its building during the early 2000s.

“Whenever they do it, it seems to kill the school eventually,” he said. “They bleed the schools of money on purpose.”

Mr. Ettman said the wing of the building where the new schools were located was renovated and that Walton students felt more like “second class” students each time another school opened on the Walton Educational Campus.

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