Eight high schools are located in the John F. Kennedy Campus, but the Department of Education suspects that pockets of under-used space still exist. The educational complex may even be roomy enough for a ninth school, according to a DOE memorandum to Kennedy principals.
About two weeks ago, the Department of Education sent letters to the administrations of Kennedy Campus schools noting that the campus-wide student body lagged nearly 700 students behind the target building enrollment figure. None of the eight schools located on the Kennedy Campus, including two charter schools that opened last fall, met target student body figures last academic year and the campus was placed on a list of buildings with “underutilized space.” The DOE may propose filling the excess space with a new school, the letter noted.
Though some educators said the letter was a routine notification sent to campuses that were a few students shy of their capacity, others believed it was only a matter of time before the DOE proposed opening a ninth school on campus.
John F. Kennedy High School, which the Panel for Education Policy voted to phase out by 2014, missed its target enrollment of 942 by 236 students, according to the 2011-2012 Enrollment, Capacity and Utilization Report.
Bronx School of Law and Finance missed its target enrollment by 134 students; English Language Learners and International Support Preparatory Academy by 108 students; Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy by 81 students; Marble Hill School for International Studies by 52 students; and Bronx Theatre High School by six students.
Two New Visions charter high schools, which only enrolled freshman during their inaugural 2011-2012 academic year, also missed their target capacities by 27 and 40 students.
Inclusion on the underutilized list does not imply that the DOE will propose a significant change in how the campus uses its space, according to David Pena, a DOE press representative. The DOE Division of Portfolio Planning analyzes building usage and the DOE Office of Space Planning reviews campuses before the department decides whether facilities are roomy enough to host another school or program. Any proposal to significantly alter how campuses use space would be subject to a public review, according to Mr. Pena.
Lisa Luft, the principal of John F. Kennedy High School, said she viewed the letters as “the beginning of a discussion.”