Lower East Side, East Village Schools Bracing for Heavy Teacher Layoffs

By Patrick Hedlund on February 28, 2011 1:32pm 

A teacher in the classroom at the NEST+m school on the Lower East side.
A teacher in the classroom at the NEST+m school on the Lower East side.
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By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

LOWER EAST SIDE — Their students may be among the best performing in the city, but that hasn't spared some schools in the Lower East Side and East Village from landing on the city's list of schools slated to lose as many as half of their teachers, education officials said.

District 1 — which covers the East Village, Lower East Side and parts of Chinatown — is projected to lose an estimated 10 percent overall of its elementary, middle and high school teachers, making it the hardest-hit district in Manhattan, according to the Education Department's proposal.

Of the district's 32 schools, only four are going to escape unscathed if the city's proposed cuts goes through.

"If this goes through, it's really scary," said Lisa Donlan, president of District 1's Community Education Council, noting that some of the district's best-performing schools appear to set absorb a disproportionate blow under the plan.

The city is proposing to slash eight of their 43 teachers at Shuang Wen/PS 184, the Cherry Street school popular for its dual-language curriculum in both English and Mandarin, amounting to a 19 percent cut to teaching staff at the kindergarten through eighth-grade school.

At New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m), a kindergarten through 12th-grade school for gifted and talented students on Columbia Street, the city has proposed axing 19 out of their 95 teachers, or 20 percent of teaching staff.

"You have to ask yourself the question, what's really at play here," said Donlan, suggesting that the city may be trying to stoke controversy as it spars with the teachers' union by taking aim at some of the district's best schools.

She also explained that Shuang Wen and NEST+m might have been singled out because they have fewer special-education and ESL (English as a Second Laguage) students. Special ed teachers and ESL teachers are shielded from the layoffs.

Officials at both schools did not immediately return requests for comment.

The city is also proposing to slash a whopping 38 percent of teachers, or eight positions out of 21, at the three-year-old School for Global Leaders on Stanton Street. That school would lose the highest percentage of teachers in the district under the city's proposal.

"Naturally, all of their teachers are new," said Donlan of the current sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, adding the Global Leaders would be "decimated" under the plan.

A trio of East Village elementary schools — PS 15/Roberto Clemente School on East 1st Street, PS 19/Asher Levy School on First Avenue, and Children's Workshop School on East 12th Street — are slated for 17 percent, 28 percent and 17 percent cuts, respectively.

The four schools not slated to lose any teachers under the plan are PS 140 Nathan Straus, University Neighborhood Middle School, Satellite Academy High School and Cascades High School, all on the Lower East Side.

A list of the proposed cuts citywide can be viewed here.

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