According to the proposal, Bryant, along with its transportable classroom unit, both located at 48-10 31st Avenue, will be replaced by “New School,” which will also serve grades nine through 12.
If the proposal is approved at a Panel for Educational Policy vote at the school on Tuesday, April 3, at 6 p.m., Bryant will close at the end of the 2011/12 school year.
But Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, a Bryant graduate, said the decision is probably already made.
“A lot of people think the vote is just a formality,” she said in an interview on Friday, February 9.
Regardless, she said the community is planning to rally against the closure. DOE is using a blanket approach to close schools around the city, she said, rather than looking at each of them individually.
“It has completely ignored community input,” she said of the proposal. “That's a big issue because Bryant, which is the heart and soul of this community, should have a say with what its structure should be.”
The schools slated for closure were given opportunities to improve over the last few years, but Simotas said DOE didn’t give them enough time to prove themselves.
According to the proposal, New School will open in September 2012, and any students who haven’t yet graduated from Bryant will automatically be enrolled.
“By closing W.C. Bryant and replacing it with New School,” a notice from the department states, “the DOE is seeking to expeditiously improve educational quality on the W.C. Bryant campus.”
To do so, “New School will develop rigorous, school-specific competencies to measure and screen prospective staff – including W.C. Bryant staff who apply to work in the new school,” it states, “thus immediately improving teacher quality and, by extension, improving the quality of learning.”
This is intended to maximize New School’s chance of receiving up to $1.8 million in funding from a federal School Improvement Grant, according to the notice.
Simotas said the proposal is referring to what’s become known as the “turnaround method,” in which 50 percent of a school’s staff, possibly including the principal, are removed from their positions and have to reapply for their jobs.
This is a problem, Simotas said, because the large population of immigrant students who attend Bryant rely on their teachers to adjust to the English language.
“So many students don’t speak English as their first language, so it takes them a little longer to graduate,” Simotas said.
But, “so many of the teachers are dedicated to the students and to the school.”
DOE wanted to close Bryant last year, but the community successfully fought it.
“We convinced them that Bryant was a special school that needed special attention,” she said, “because of a large immigrant population that attends the school.”
She added that Bryant proved its ability to send successful people into the world, citing other officials who graduated from the high school, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and former schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
Students will panic when they hear the news because they may not understand the proposal’s implications, she said.
“I think it’s going have a devastating affect,” Simotas said. “I think that students and parents are going take that as they’re going to a failing school and that’s not necessarily true.”