The city has begun the process of “phasing out” Sheepshead Bay High School following a March 11 vote by the Panel for Education Policy.
The panel, which has the final say in the matter, aims to close the ailing school by 2017, replacing it with a new public high school, two charter high schools, and a district transfer high school, all due to open by this September.
Beginning in the fall, Sheepshead Bay High School will no longer accept incoming freshman, and will phase out students by grade for the next three years.
New York City’s public schools receive grades A through F just like their students, albeit on an annual basis, reflecting the students’ progress and performance, the school’s environment, and — as of the 2011-2012 school year — the school’s ability to prepare students for college and careers. In the 2011-2012 school year, Sheepshead Bay High School received an overall D grade on its progress report, with F grades in the student progress, student performance, and school environment subcategories, and a C grade in its ability to prepare students for college and careers.
Prior to last year’s progress report, the school received an overall D on its 2010-2011 report card, and two consecutive C grades in the years before, which the city says shows a persistent regression in the quality of education the school provides its students.
“In light of the fact that performance at Sheepshead Bay has continued to decline, the DOE believes that Sheepshead Bay is not able to improve quickly to support student learning,” read a Department of Education press release. “Given the school’s declining performance, the DOE now believes that only the most serious intervention, a gradual phase-out and eventual closure of Sheepshead Bay, will address the school’s declining performance and long-standing struggles and allow for new school options to develop in building K495 that will better serve future students and the broader community.”
Sheepshead Bay High School’s four-year graduation rate was a mere 51 percent in 2012, placing it in the bottom 14 percent of city school’s in that category. If a current student hasn’t graduated by the time the school is set to close, the Department of Education will help the family to identify another school for the student to attend until graduation.
The soon-to-shut school also suffered a low attendance rate of 80.1 percent, below the city’s 85.4 percent average and again putting Sheepshead Bay High in the bottom 14 percent of schools. Students also felt unsafe at the school, with only 65 percent of students reporting feeling safe on school grounds, placing it firmly in the dubious bottom three percent of school’s citywide.
Following several years of bad report cards, the school was designated as a Persistently Low Achieving school in July, 2010, and Sheepshead Bay High was awarded a School Improvement Grant to the tune of $1,550,000 per year for the next three years in 2011.
However, following last year’s bad reports, the School Improvement Grant was revoked, as the city plans to pursue its plans of phasing out the high school.
Naturally, not everyone is happy to see the long-time educational institution go the way of the dinosaurs, especially since it will be replaced by charter schools.
“I don’t like to see charter schools replacing local schools, which serve local children,” said Plumb Beach Civic Association president Kathleen Flynn.
Ari Kagan, the area’s democratic district leader and a candidate to replace Councilman Michael Nelson, said that closing one high school and opening another doesn’t seem like the right direction to improve education.
“While I am not against reform and appreciate that times change, this closure and collocation plan will not serve the students, parents or teachers of our community,” said Kagan. “The Department of Education’s main goal should be improving the public school system, and this will not help reach that goal.”Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn