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Girls Prep “Report Card” Score Drops

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Parents spoke out about Girls Prep expansion plan at two public hearings last year.

For more than a year, we followed the saga surrounding Girls Prep, the charter school that fought to expand its middle school on the Lower East Side. Gotham Schools notes it’s one of two schools that performed particularly badly in the latest progress reports released by the NYC Department of Education:

Merrick Academy and Girls Prep – two schools that were plagued with problems with staff and space, respectively-experienced large drops in their overall Progress Report Scores and percentile rankings. Merrick Academy’s overall score dropped by over 80 points and its percentile ranking fell from 76% of all schools to the bottom 3%. Girls Prep Charter School’s score dropped by 70 points and its rank dropped from the 82ndpercentile to the 13th… Girls Prep’s plummet is especially noteworthy, since the Department of Education has attempted to support the school’s search for space, with Chancellor Joel Klein at one point offering to use emergency powers to find space. The school’s prominent board of directors includes Boykin Curry and EricGrannis, charter school leader and politico Eva Moskowitz’s husband.

Controversy over the school’s expansion eased, at least temporarily, in August when Girls Prep decided to lease space in a building on Cooper Square.  The charter school shares space in a 100-year old building on East Houston Street with P.S. 188 and P.S. 94, a special needs school.

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  1. An update on the GPCS expansion into District One public schools:
    The DoE organized borough-based meetings on its priorities for this school year in mid August for elected officials.

    In that presentation the following priorities for D One were announced:
    Grade reconfiguration for Girls Prep charter School.
    Need for ELL/International program, especially at the middle school level( Spanish/Chinese)
    Uneven distribution of special education populations across schools
    Increase access to high quality programs for students in under performing schools.

    This information has not been released to the CECs despite their clear role in the legally mandate community engagement process over these proposed priorities and changes.

    A deck was distributed in the Manhattan meeting for elected government officials (but not elected parents!)entitled:
    Division Of Portfolio Planning
    Presentation on Manhattan priorities for 2011
    August 18, 2010

    In the deck that process is defined as:

    “engaging a broad range of community partners early and often- before, during and after decisions are made.

    — parents, parent organizations, school staff and students.
    — elected officials, UFT, CSA and PEP
    — community and faith based organizations”

    The Steps Taken To Date section of the same slide states that:

    Portfolio started engagement with school communities in the Spring for select grade reconfigurations.

    However in the case of Girls Prep, now being called a grade reconfiguration by DoE in this presentation (whereas last year it was named an expansion) we are not aware of any such steps.

    Apparently, DoE has since released their school by school “hit list” of schools their formulas classify as “underutilized space.”
    As CEC One and many other advocates have repeatedly stated for years, these formulas deny kids in NYC the quality learning environments they deserve: small class size; rooms for academic support, intervention services and enrichment like science, art, music and movement/PE.
    The formula also lead to over scheduled and over crowded gyms, cafeterias, hallways and play yards, contributing to an unhealthy and inequitable environment for our children.
    DoE says they will hold the promised Portfolio presentations to CECs and CCHS that are announced in the 8/18 deck sometime in mid October.

    Nothing has been announced or formalized yet for the parents and communities affected by DoE’s top-down decisions about our community schools.
    DoE has only made a priority of informing the elected representatives, benefiting the very powers that have supported the system of Mayoral control that dis-empowered parents and communities.

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