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PR- 346-05
September 8, 2005


53 New Small Secondary Schools, 5 New Elementary and 15 New Charters Open

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced 69 new Gifted and Talented programs and the addition of 8,600 new classroom seats throughout the City as they visited P.S. 376 in Brooklyn, Queens Vocational and Technical High School, and I.S. 131 in the Bronx on the first day of school. The Mayor and Chancellor visited a new Gifted and Talented program at P.S. 376 and had lunch with students at Queens Vocational in a new cafeteria that is part of a new addition that is adding 643 seats to the school. The announcement was made at I.S. 131, where the Mayor and Chancellor also highlighted the new intervention strategies for middle schools and the opening of 53 new small secondary schools, 5 new elementary schools, and 15 new charter schools - the most new charter schools ever opening in one year in the City. More than 1,400 New York City public schools open today.

"Today we welcome 1.1 million children to their first day back to school, and they are returning to a system changing for the better," said Mayor Bloomberg. "With test scores improving, graduation rates increasing, schools getting safer and more classroom seats being added, our schools are definitely moving in the right direction. As I promised at the State of the City address, we are also expanding our Gifted and Talented programs and adding vocational programs throughout the City. I welcome our kids back to school today and wish them all the best in what will be another great school year."

"New school years are always exciting, with this one especially so," said Chancellor Klein. "We have the opportunity to build on the significant successes of last year as well as to implement some critical new initiatives and programs throughout the City. I have no doubt that, working together under the banner of Children First, our dedicated parents, teachers, principals, and staff will ensure that this is the best year ever for our students."

New Gifted and Talented Programs Across the City

At P.S. 376 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the Mayor and Chancellor visited one of 69 new Gifted and Talented programs opening across the City - significantly more than the number announced last February following the Mayor's State of the City commitment to maintain existing programs and expanded Gifted and Talented to traditionally under-served communities. The Mayor and Chancellor welcomed the new first grade students at the Gifted and Talented program in P.S. 376, one of 15 new self-contained programs opening in neighborhoods that previously had little or no access to these programs including the South Bronx, Long Island City, Harlem, Washington Heights, and all of Staten Island.

54 school-wide enrichment programs are also opening across the City, the large majority of which are in districts with no previous similar programs. Both of the Gifted and Talented models being expanded this year have already been in use across the City. In self-contained programs, students are grouped together in one classroom, and most will begin with one class in either kindergarten or first grade. School-wide enrichment programs enable clusters of students with special interest or ability in particular subjects, such as social studies, science or the arts, to engage in structured advanced work while continuing in general programs for other subject areas.

Queens Vocational Addition and New Seats Across the City

The Mayor and Chancellor also visited Queens Vocational and Technical High School to highlight new classrooms that have been created citywide. The 643 new seats in the Queens Vocational addition are among more than 8,600 new seats going into use today, including 2,432 seats through construction of additions, 2,726 through build-outs of leased facilities, and 3,456 seats through DOE's program to convert district and administrative offices into classrooms. Since 2003, DOE has created 12,240 seats from converted district and administrative offices. The 8,600 new seats this year bring the total of new seats created since the Mayor's and Chancellor's reform of the School Construction Authority (SCA) to more than 43,600. Five thousand of those seats were created under the the DOE's 2005-2009 Capital Plan, which will provide an additional 61,000 new seats, bringing the total number of new seats to over 104,000 by the completion of this plan's projects.

The Queens Vocational addition is larger than the existing school and includes a new cafeteria, kitchen, gym, and state-of-the-art science and vocational training labs for the study of such subjects as electronic engineering, robotics, and plumbing. In previous years, Queens Vocational operated significantly over capacity and had no gym, an undersized cafeteria and outdated labs. Students were forced to eat lunch in the auditorium as early as 9:30 a.m. The $28 million new addition came in under the lowered spending targets established by the Mayor and Chancellor when they functionally merged the School Construction Authority with DOE's School Facilities Division. The new addition was the first new construction project completed under the restructured School Construction Authority. Its current cost of completion is $324 per square foot. Adjusted for inflation, that is 31% less than the average cost for school projects completed before our SCA reforms were instituted.

New Middle School Interventions and the End to Social Promotion in the 7th Grade

At I.S. 131, the Mayor and Chancellor highlighted the new middle school intervention programs to be implemented in schools across the City this year. Building on the success of the 3rd and 5th grade promotion policies and the extensive interventions at the elementary level, the middle school interventions will help struggling seventh graders meet the new promotion requirements for eighth grade and be better prepared for high school. Seventh graders will now have to achieve at Level 2 or better on the 7th grade ELA test or demonstrate equivalent performance through an automatic appeal consisting of a review of student coursework. In 2006-2007, these standards will be applied to student math proficiency as well.

DOE has committed $40 million to the middle school intervention program for schools to provide academic interventions and support to struggling students, for the expansion of the successful Saturday Preparatory Academy to seventh graders, for professional development for teachers, principals, and staff, and for parent involvement efforts. Middle school principals can use the new funding to support academic intervention teams, to utilize proven adolescent literacy materials, for new intervention teachers and specialists, for tutoring before and after school, for guidance counselors, and for parent workshops. Beginning on October 29th, DOE will expand Saturday Preparatory Academy to struggling seventh graders after a successful launch last year for fifth graders most at risk of being held back. Last year, 90% of the at-risk fifth graders who attended at least 11 Saturday Preparatory Academy sessions met English Language promotion standards, and 72% met the Math standards by scoring Level 2 or higher on spring tests. Saturday Prep will provide academic instruction in English and math, study skills support, and enrichment activities such as physical education and the arts to help ensure strong attendance.

53 New Small Secondary Schools, 5 New Elementary and 15 New Charters Across the City

As part of a comprehensive strategy to provide more high quality options for the City's students, the Mayor and Chancellor today also highlighted the 53 new small secondary schools, 15 new charter schools, and 5 new elementary schools opening this fall. This brings the total of new schools and charters opened since 2003 to 178. The Mayor has promised to create 200 new small schools and charters by 2007. The new secondary schools offer personalized learning environments and academically rigorous classes. Operated by independent non-profit organizations, charter schools include strong leadership, empowerment of principals, and performance-based accountability. Charter schools also promote innovation and excellence by bringing new leaders, resources and ideas into public education.

Small schools and charter schools are opening in all five boroughs across the City, with a particular focus on communities that do not have many high quality educational options. 22 new schools and charters will open in Manhattan, 26 in the Bronx, 17 in Brooklyn, 7 in Queens, and 1 in Staten Island, the first new small school to open in the borough. The Staten Island school is the CSI (College of Staten Island) High School for International Studies, developed with CSI and the Asia Society.

The new schools have partnered with non-profit organizations, cultural institutions, and businesses that help bring additional resources to enhance learning. In addition to the thirteen intermediary organizations that have partnered with the Department of Education to open schools in the past, partners of this year's new schools include the New York Aquarium, which is partnered with the Rachel Carson School of Coastal Studies; the Federal Reserve Bank of NY involved with The Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Queens; Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), which is partnered with the Urban Assembly School of Music and Art; and the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team, which is partnered with the High School of Sports Management.

15 New Learning to Work Centers

As the Mayor promised at the State of the City address, DOE will be expanding vocational opportunities by opening fifteen new Learning-to-Work centers this fall. Learning to Work is a component of DOE's strategy to provide overage and under-credited students with multiple pathways to graduation and guide them to meaningful post-secondary educational and career opportunities. Learning to Work will provide over 2,600 students with in-depth job readiness counseling, paid and unpaid internships, and career and college preparation, all designed to complement the academic programs of the Young Adult Borough Centers and transfer schools where Learning to Work will be located. As part of Learning to Work, the Department will work with its community partners to create approximately 2,000 subsidized internships for students at museums, cultural organizations, social service agencies, government offices and private sector businesses.

Young Adult Borough Centers are evening academic programs designed to meet the needs of students who might be considering dropping out because they are behind or because they have adult responsibilities that make attending school in the daytime difficult. Students graduate with a diploma from their home school. Nine new YABCs will open this fall bringing the total to 18. Half of all of the YABCs will include Learning to Work programs. Transfer schools are small, academically rigorous high schools designed to re-engage overage and under-credited adolescents in meeting the requirements for a high school diploma. Six transfer schools will house Learning to Work programs this year.


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958

Jerry Russo   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

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