Children from PS 114 may have very little to be thankful for this turkey day — their school may soon be falling under the Department of Education’s very sharp performance axe.
The Remsen Avenue school, which is between Farragut Road and Bayview Place, has been teetering on the brink of closure for the last two weeks after the school fell from a grade B to a D on its yearly overall report card.
During a recent meeting with parents, School District 18 Community Superintendent Beverly Wilkins said that the school’s future was uncertain because of its “poor, or no leadership, ineffective curriculum and programs, bad test stores and deficiencies in the way that the school is organized to support learning.”
Department of Education officials will decide “by the end of November” if the school will be fazed out, Wilkins explained.
If it is, then the more than 800 students who attend class there will remain at the Pre-K to grade five school until they graduate, but no new students will be enrolled. Once the school is empty, the Department of Education will probably use the building to house smaller schools.
But what PS 114 lacks in test scores, it makes up in community support. The school scored a two out of 10 on www.greatschools.com’s “great schools” rating because of its poor test scores, but then received a four out of five on the website’s “community rating,” which is based on reviews by community school members.
Parents showed their love for PS 114 by attending two “support our school” rallies, where it was made clear that the children didn’t fail the school, which has been educating Canarsie youngsters for well over a century. Previous school leaders did, they claim.
Many in attendance said former administrators failed the school miserably by poorly managing personnel and blowing their budgets early in the school year. Now the community is paying the price.
“The teachers that are here they care about our kids, they love our children,” said one parent at a recent rally. “It’s just the administration. I think the administration honestly needs to be changed.”
Parents Association President Crystal King laid the blame squarely on former Principal Maria Pena-Herrara, who ran the school until 2009. The school has had two interim principals since she left.
“This was once a model school in Canarsie and now, because of the mess [Principal Pena-Herrara] left behind, we’re left with an administration which doesn’t support the teachers when they need help and our children suffer as a result,” King told reporters.
City Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Canarsie) agreed, claiming that saving the school would not only benefit future schoolchildren, but the overall community.
“This is a neighborhood school in north Canarsie, but it is also a gateway to the rest of Canarsie,” Fidler said, adding that the Department of Education shouldn’t punish the neighborhood for the mistakes of its own school administrators. “We can’t let it go, especially since the Department of Education’s hands are particularly dirty in this case.”