Plan to Co-Locate Tech High School with LIC Middle School Sparks Worries

By Jeanmarie Evelly on March 27, 2013 12:53pm 

 The DOE will open a career and technical high school this fall at 36-41 28th St. in Queens, home to middle school I.S. 204.
The DOE will open a career and technical high school this fall at 36-41 28th St. in Queens, home to middle school I.S. 204.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — The Department of Education's plan to open a high school in the same building as a middle school has some community members worried about how 21-year-olds and sixth-graders will fare sharing the same space.

The new Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school, 30Q258, would open this fall at 36-41 28th St., according to a plan approved by the Panel for Educational Policy last week.

The school will be a six-year early college program that prepares students for careers in engineering and robotics, giving them a high school diploma, an Associate degree and workplace apprenticeships, according to the DOE.

And while community leaders say they support the plan to create more vocational training in Queens District 30, some worry about the new school's location: in the same building as middle school I.S. 204, which serves sixth through eighth graders.

"It's not really appropriate to have 10-year-olds in a school building where there are 21-year-olds," said District 30 Community Education Council co-president Jeffrey Guyton. "The school community is not very happy about it."

The DOE chose the I.S. 204 building because it will be underutilized next year. The Academy for Careers in Television and Film, a high school that currently shares space with the middle school at I.S. 204, is slated to relocate this fall to a new school building being constructed in Hunters Point.

The DOE plan also says that the new high school's oldest students, in grades 13 and 14, would spend most of those years out of the building doing apprentice and internship work and would rarely interact with the middle schoolers.

“There are many buildings throughout the city that share space with other grade levels — and most co-locations throughout the city are very successful when adults put children first,” DOE spokesman Devon Puglia said in a statement.

He added that the new program, one of five CTE high schools in Queens, would be a model one, part of the city's quest to create more industry-specific programs for high school students.

“This is not a post-high school or transfer school," Puglia said. "This is a visionary 9-14 school and a model similar to that of the nationally-recognized P-Tech, which was lauded by the President in the State of the Union."

Guyton said the CEC is not critical of the program itself, but would rather see I.S. 204 alone in the 28th Street building so it can grow and alleviate some of the middle school overcrowding in District 30.

"There are reasons to have the CTE high school, good reasons to have it — it's not black and white. But there are definite downsides," Guyton said. 

According to DOE public hearing minutes, I.S. 204 principal Yvonne Leimsider told the city that the school is already concerned about overcrowding issues in the building. She said I.S. 204 — which also enrolls students through a popular green magnet program — can only offer seats to 20 percent of applicants each year because of space constraints.

"She's turning away several hundred kids a year," said CEC co-president Isaac Carmignani. "It makes sense to me to just leave that school a middle school, that way we can populate it more and relieve overcrowding in some of our other middles schools."

But Carmignani also said there is a need for more CTE high schools in Queens, where there are currently only four.

"There's some competing priorities here, which we understand," he said.

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