City Unveils Plan for Boys and Girls High School Co-Location

By Paul DeBenedetto on April 5, 2013 11:12am 

 Boys and Girls High School, in Bed-Stuy, may be co-located with a new transfer school in the fall.
Boys and Girls High School, in Bed-Stuy, may be co-located with a new transfer school in the fall.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Bekiempis

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The city unveiled a plan on Thursday to co-locate a new transfer school inside beleaguered Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant in September.

The Research and Service High School would enroll up to 170 students inside the underutilized school building in the fall under a separate principal and staff, with projected enrollment to go up to 270 students by 2015, the Department of Education said.

"The DOE has identified [Boys and Girls High School] as an underutilized building," said Brooklyn district 16 high school superintendent Karen Watts at a sparsely-attended meeting on Thursday, adding that the school "has sufficient space to accommodate the proposed co-location."

Transfer schools are small schools designed to engage students that are two-or-more years older than expected for their grade, and who are behind in credits. The students are treated to an "academically rigorous" program to help them graduate, according to the DOE.

Boys and Girls High School is currently utilizing about 33 percent of its facility, with an enrollment of only 1,114 out of 3,389 available seats, according to the School Construction Authority. The addition of the Research and Service High School would bring that utilization rate to as high as 41 percent by 2015, the DOE said.

After the initial phase-in of the new transfer school, the DOE will propose to open and co-locate a third school in 2014, though there are not yet any specifics, Watts said.

In addition to the regular curriculum, Research and Service will also offer a "Learning to Work Program," which will offer extra support for students in need and provide career preparations, the superintendent said.

"The goal of LTW is to assist students in overcoming obstacles that impede their progress toward a high school diploma and lead them toward rewarding employment and educational experiences after graduation," the school's educational impact statement reads.

The co-location plan started about two years ago, Boys and Girls Principal Bernard Gassaway said, and a vote on the plan will be brought to the panel for education policy on April 17.

When asked whether there were any concerns over a possibly older crop of kids coming in, Gassaway said he wasn't worried.

"When you describe the population of a transfer school, they're the same kids I have during the day," Gassaway said. "I don't have babies here. They're teenagers. So I don't anticipate any problems."

The principal also said they reached out to members of the school community about the co-location, and did not expect pushback from parents.

"This is something that we had discussions in the community [about]," Gassaway said. "The stakeholders were clear about the benefits to the community, and the DOE and Boys and Girls High School community were in agreement."

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