Lagging enrollment and poor student performance are the reasons behind the upcoming closures of three Brooklyn public schools. The schools, all located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, are: Peace Academy Middle School; the School for the Urban Environment; and Foundations Academy High School. This is the first time Mayor Bill de Blasio has opted to shut down any non-charter schools in the city.
The decision to close will leave 217 students in total with the need to find other places to learn.
The Education Department said that the Peace Academy and the School for the Urban Environment are the two schools in New York with the lowest student body, with only 47 and 57 students respectively. The school for the Urban Environment has not had even one student able to score adequately on the state English test for the past two years.
Foundations Academy had the lowest graduation rate of any school in New York City during the 2013-2014 school year. The city average for graduation is 68 percent, but Foundations only graduated 22 percent of its students. The high school is also among the cities least in demand schools. Only two eighth graders chose it as their first choice on this year’s application.
The mayor’s decision came as a surprise, however. The previous Mayor Bloomberg was not averse to shutting down schools which did not show results, closing over 150 schools during his tenure. Mayor de Blasio, on the other hand, has said from the start that he would be hesitant to close down schools, opting to stimulate them instead with resources to help them improve.
One observer, David C. Bloomfield, a professor of education leadership at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, was a bit uncertain how de Blasio chose these schools to close and why at this time.
“It’s a big departure because it’s so precipitous” Mr. Bloomfield said. There was no warning or prior announcements that these three schools were on line for closure. “He said this would only be a last resort, and that case hasn’t yet been made.”