LONG ISLAND CITY — Critics came out in full force Wednesday night to a public hearing on the city's plan to co-locate a new school at Long Island City High School — which they say will threaten the progress the struggling school has made recently.
Students rallied before the hearing, holding signs that read "Don't Slice or Dice LIC," and a bevy of students and elected officials testified in opposition to the plan, which the Department of Education's Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on next Wednesday.
Opponents say the plan would threaten the progress the school has made recently, saying LIC has a new effective principal and is back on track after several years of struggling — and a co-location would only set them back.
"It's clear that the students don't want this change, the parents don't want this change, the teachers don't want this change, the elected officials don’t want this change," Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said at Wednesday's hearing.
The DOE has proposed co-locating a new Career and Technical Education high school in the building at 14-30 Broadway, which would open in September of 2014.
The new school would share the space with LIC's students as well as with one site of P.S. 993 Queens, a District 75 special needs school that is also in the building.
The proposal would mean reducing enrollment at LIC High School over the course of four years beginning next September in order to make room for the new school, which would be phased in with a new grade each year.
LIC would lose 420-460 students by the 2017-2018 school year, according to the DOE, bringing its enrollment that year to just under 2,000 kids.
The DOE says the enrollment reduction would allow for the new school option in the building as well as to "provide an opportunity for LIC to concentrate on a smaller cohort of students," according to the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal.
The city points to the struggling school's performance over the years, including overall "C" grades on its last three progress reports and decreasing enrollment numbers.
But critics of the plan say LIC drew fewer students in recent years in part because of a tumultuous period caused by the city's attempt to close the school in 2012.
"The city wants to take apart Long Island City High School," Rachel Paster, head of the Community Education Council for District 30, said in her testimony Wednesday night.
"They’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. it kind of seems like payback," she said.
Paster said LIC offers a number of important opportunities to the diverse Queens neighborhood it serves, including 26 Advanced Placement classes, advanced Regents courses, plus special programs and extracurricular activities.
"To try and co-locate a school that would reduce those offerings is absurd," Paster said.
A DOE spokesman told DNAinfo New York in August that the city wants to bring more educational options to the neighborhood, and the proposed new CTE school would do that.
"After decades without any new CTE options, we've created dozens of new ones with all kinds of career focuses," spokesman Devon Puglia said at the time. "Students flock to them, parents clamor for them, and this area needs one."