After announcing that it would not close or phase out DeWitt Clinton High School, the Department of Education tried to slip past public scrutiny the fact that it would scale back its resources and dwindle down its enrollment anyway.
In November, officials sent the school community reeling by placing the storied 115-year-old institution on an “early engagement” list, meaning it could be closed in one fell swoo phased out, or restructured.
After sparing the school from closure next fall, the Department of Education then quietly announced that it would locate two new schools on a new “Clinton Educational Campus” and would scale back Clinton’s enrollment by some 1,300 students.
Over the years, teacher after teacher has told us tales of good intentions thwarted by a lack of resources. Carolina Castro, a Clinton graduate, said she returned to teach science in 2003, but left in 2010 after getting no support from the DOE, administration or network. She said she taught a year of advanced placement environmental studies, without books.
Clinton was forced to forfeit $1.7 million in state aid for struggling schools because the DOE overestimated its enrollment, according to Alan Ettman, a Kingsbridge resident and the Clinton United Federation of Teachers chapter leader. The DOE still hasn’t gotten back to us about this assertion.
This current move seems only to push the school closer to its own grave, while beginning to populate the building with the schools that will replace it. Meanwhile, the two new yet-to-be-named public high schools will begin to eat up the school’s resources that educators claim are so lacking.
The new schools will eventually enroll between 420 and 460 students each and will use 16 full-size classrooms each. According to the educational impact statement, Clinton would share large spaces such as three gyms, a cafeteria, an auditorium, a library, a dance room and a pool with the new schools and gradually hand over the building’s 125 full-size classrooms until Clinton only uses 75 by the 2016-2017 school year.
That sure sounds like a phase out to us.
So we ask the Department of Education: Who exactly do you think you’re fooling?