THE BRONX — At one of the 20 new schools opening in The Bronx in September, high schoolers will design apps and experiment with robotics.
At another new vocational high school, students can become registered nurses by graduation, while youngsters at a new middle school will be able to munch on vegetables grown on their school’s rooftop garden.
“Our strategy is providing families with more and more options,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Tuesday when announcing the new schools alongside the mayor.
The new Bronx schools include 12 elementary, one middle and seven high schools, including the two vocational schools. Four of the schools are charters.
The majority of the new schools fall in the borough’s three southern districts and will share space with existing schools.
They join 78 new schools that will serve some 10,000 students citywide next school year, capping a signature Bloomberg administration policy that has been the flip side of the more controversial strategy of closing low-performing schools.
“Our administration has created a record number of schools and programs for our students, which have helped lead to record gains,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
The two vocational, or career and technical education (CTE), schools combine normal high school courses with classes and internships that teach specialized skills.
Students at the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering in Belmont will learn to code, program and build apps, both in class and in tech-industry internships. Planned clubs will focus on robotics, 3D printing and business startups.
“There’s a huge tech community growing in The Bronx,” said proposed principal Ben Grossman. “A lot of kids will be able to walk away from this program with really solid-paying jobs.”
The Health, Education and Research Occupations, or HERO, High School in Mott Haven, designed with help from Montefiore Medical Center and Hostos Community College, plans to churn out workers for one of the borough’s biggest industries — healthcare.
Beginning their sophomore year, students can take college-level nursing or community health worker classes at the high school campus or at Hostos. If they choose to remain at HERO for an additional two years, or until grade 14, they can earn an associate degree, free of charge.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for students,” said proposed principal Kristin Cahill, adding that registered nurses with associate degrees earn an average starting salary of $68,000 in the city.
Many of the 652 new schools the city has opened in the decade since Bloomberg took office have been charters, while the new high schools have been small, with many focused on particular industries or subjects.
Some critics charge that the city allows struggling schools to slip beyond repair, so that it can create new programs from scratch.
“If you take care of the schools and give them what they need, there’s no reason to create new schools,” said Neyda Franco, president of the District 7 Community Education Council.
In defending its strategy of opening new schools, the city points to data showing higher test scores and graduation rates at new schools than at closing ones.
Lynn Sanchez, a Bronx parent organizer, said new schools can offer advantages — but only if they are carefully planned with the community’s needs in mind.
“Parents are pushing for a comprehensive plan,” for each new school, Sanchez said, “that’s set on paper, which parents can see and understand and have some sort of input into.”
She cited the Highbridge Green School as an example of a school designed with extensive help from the local community.
The long-awaited middle school in Highbridge will occupy a new state-of-the-art building outfitted with a green roof and model wind turbines and solar panels.
High school applicants who did not receive a match in the first round of admissions or who are unhappy with their match can apply to the new schools, or to any ones with open seats. The second round application deadline is April 12.
Bronx schools opening in the fall of 2013:
Concourse Village Elementary School
New American Academy at Roberto Clemente State Park
The Walton Avenue School
Lucero Elementary School
Young Voices Academy of the Bronx
Fairmont Neighborhood School
South Bronx Classical Charter School II
Brilla College Prep Charter School
Success Academy Charter School - Bronx 3
The Highbridge Green School
Bronx Alliance Middle School
Icahn Charter School 7
New Directions Secondary School
Pelham Lab High School
Schuylerville Preparatory High School
Bronx River High School
Bronx Collaborative High School
World View High School
HERO High (Health, Education, and Research Occupations High School)
Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE)