LONG ISLAND CITY — A group of school and community leaders are taking aim at the city's plan to open a new career and technical school in the same building as a struggling neighborhood high school.
But some say the plan would only put a strain on the large Queens high school, which has been working to turn itself around after having been targeted by the city for closure in recent years.
"None of the schools I know of, where they put a school in another school, does it function well," said Ken Achiron, a teacher at Long Island City High School for more than three decades and a UFT chapter leader.
Critics have started an online petition against the DOE's plan, which has more than 600 signatures to date. The district's community education council also wrote a letter to the DOE on Aug. 20 expressing concern about the plan.
Achiron says they worry a co-location would force Long Island City High School to compete with the new school for space and other resources, and would set the school back just when it's begun to make positive improvements.
LIC High School was one of two dozen schools cited by the DOE in 2012 for poor performance, and was supposed to shutter and re-open under a different name until an arbitrator blocked the city from going through with the closures.
Achiron said that the school has spent the last year "getting back on track." It has a new principal and educators there are working to bring up their graduation and attendance rates.
"There have been a lot of good changes," he said.
Meanwhile, Achiron said the city has cut the school's budget this year by $3 million — a drop the DOE attributes to naturally declining enrollment at the school.
Budgets are based on student population, according to the DOE, and fewer students are applying to LIC High School: overall enrollment has decreased by 10 percent since the 2007-2008 school year. Achiron blames that decline on the city's attempts the shutter the school and label it as failing.
If the CTE co-location is approved, Long Island City High School would have its enrollment — currently just below 3,000 students — reduced by about 400 kids over four years, starting in the 2014-2015 school year, to make way for the new school.
But Achiron and other community members say that instead of opening an entirely new school, the city should open the CTE program as part of Long Island City High School, administered by its current staff.
"You don’t have to to have a whole new administration — that seems to to be something that takes more resources and space in the building," said Isaac Carmignani, a member of the Community Education Council for District 30.
In a statement, DOE spokesman Devon Puglia said the planned CTE school is intended to offer more educational options to neighborhood families.
"After decades without any new CTE options, we've created dozens of new ones with all kinds of career focuses," he said. "Students flock to them, parents clamor for them, and this area needs one."
The DOE's Panel for Educational Policy is expected to consider the co-location proposal sometime this fall, but the District 30 CEC is looking to have it pushed back to December.