decisions decisions

Most students got a top HS pick; for some, choices remain

In a year when legal wrangling complicated the high school admissions process, the city managed to place more than half of eighth-graders in their first-choice school, city officials said today.

Still, more than 6,500 eighth-graders didn’t get into any high school at all, according to the Department of Education’s annual press release touting admissions results. The city released the results today, nearly a month later than usual and more than two weeks after the department mailed out admissions decisions that had been delayed by a lawsuit over school closures.

The 80,412 students who submitted high school applications included 8,382 students who applied to one of the 14 high schools the city tried to close this year. Originally, the department planned to assign those students to another high school listed on their application. But after the city lost a lawsuit stopping the school closures, the department generated new matches for the students, giving 1,397 of them a choice between attending a school the city has deemed failing and another school the student ranked lower. (The other 7,000 students ranked the schools slated for closure so low on their applications that they were placed elsewhere.) Students have until the end of next week to choose, according to a letter sent to principals last week by Leonard Trerotola, the department’s high school enrollment director.

An additional 174 students who were matched with schools originally slated to close will be able to submit an application in the supplementary round, typically reserved for students who were not accepted to any school. The 6,520 other students who did not receive a high school match will also be able to apply to the schools originally slated to close, Treratola told principals. The department also opted not to match any of the 1,087 students who applied to selective programs at the once-closing schools with those programs but will allow the students to reapply, according to the press release.

When the ruling was first announced last month, teachers union president Michael Mulgrew told GothamSchools that the union would sue to force the city to place students in the schools that were originally proposed for closure. Dick Riley, a union spokesman, would not comment today on the results of the high school admissions process.

The complete press release is below.


Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that 86 percent (69,363) of the 80,412 eighth grade students who applied for admission to New York City public high schools in 2010 have been matched to one of their top five choices. More than half of the applicants – 52 percent (41,667) – received their first choice, 77 percent (61,777) of students received one of their top three choices, and 86 percent (69,363) received one of their top five choices-marking the fifth consecutive year that more than 80 percent of high school applicants received one of their top five choices. In all, 92 percent of students (73,718) were matched with one of their choices.

 “Our high school admissions process provides tremendously varied options that respond to the diverse needs and interests of our students, with the aim of best preparing them for success in college and their careers,” Chancellor Klein said. “I am pleased that for the fifth consecutive year, more than 80 percent of students were admitted to one of their top five choices.”

Among this year’s applicants, 20,140 students listed a new small school as their first choice, and 12,638 of those students – 63 percent – were matched to their first choice. A total of 214 new small secondary schools accepting ninth-graders have opened since 2002, and 12 more will open at the start of the 2010-11 school year.

The high school admissions process consists of three rounds and begins after students list up to 12 high school programs in order of preference on their applications. In the first round, students applying to the City’s specialized high schools receive their matches; this round was conducted in February.  During the second round, known as the main round, the vast majority of eighth-graders receive their high school match; these letters were sent earlier this month. Students were matched to their highest choice possible based on their interests, eligibility, and the selection method used by schools. This year, 6,694 students did not receive a match in the main round and have been automatically entered into the third round, known as the supplementary round.

Additionally, after a recent State Supreme Court ruling halted the City’s plans to phase out 19 failing schools, the Department ran a match process for students who listed one of the schools originally slated for phase-out on their initial high school application. Of the 8,382 students who selected a phase-out school or program on their applications, 1,397 were matched to one of those programs. Pending an appeal of the Court’s decision, most of those students (1,221) can choose between two options-the phase-out school or the school they were matched to in the main round of the process. The remaining 174 students did not receive a main round match and will be able to select a second school option during the supplementary round.

Screened programs at the phase-out schools were also listed by 1,087 of the 8,382 students on their initial applications, and these students will be able to reapply to any of the screened programs they listed.  If the City wins its appeal, students who select phase-out schools or programs will attend the schools they were matched to in either the main or supplementary round.

Students participating in the supplementary round have until April 29 to submit their choice forms to guidance counselors. The Department of Education will host an information and counseling fair for students about the supplementary round on Thursday, April 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Campus in Manhattan (122 Amsterdam Avenue, at 66thstreet). School representatives and admissions counselors will be available to discuss high school options with students and their families. Students in the supplementary round will receive high school matches on May 26.

Details about the 2010 high school match results are below.




Newark schools would get $37.5 million boost under Gov. Murphy’s budget plan

PHOTO: OIT/Governor's Office
Gov. Phil Murphy gave his first budget address on Tuesday.

Newark just got some good news: Gov. Phil Murphy wants to give its schools their biggest budget increase since 2011.

State funding for the district would grow by 5 percent — or $37.5 million — next school year under Murphy’s budget plan, according to state figures released Thursday. Overall, state aid for K-12 education in Newark would rise to $787.6 million for the 2018-19 school year.

The funding boost could ease financial strain on the district, which has faced large deficits in recent years as more students enroll in charter schools — taking a growing chunk of district money with them. At the same time, the district faced years of flat funding from the state, which provides Newark with most of its education money.

“This increase begins to restore the deep cuts made to teaching and support staff and essential programs for students in district schools over the last seven years,” said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, who noted that a portion of the increase would go to Newark charter schools.

Newark’s boost is part of a nearly $284 million increase that Murphy is proposing for the state’s school-aid formula, which has not been properly funded since 2009. In the budget outline he released Tuesday, Murphy said the increase was the first installment in a four-year plan to fully fund the formula, which calls for about $1 billion more than the state currently spends on education.

Even with Murphy’s proposed boost, Newark’s state aid would still be about 14 percent less than what it’s entitled to under the formula, according to state projections.

Murphy, a Democrat, is counting on a series of tax hikes and other revenue sources — including legalized marijuana — to pay for his budget, which increases state spending by 4.2 percent over this fiscal year. He’ll need the support of his fellow Democrats who control the state legislature to pass those measures, but some have expressed concerns about parts of Murphy’s plan — in particular, his proposal to raise taxes on millionaires. They have until June 30 to agree on a budget.

In the meantime, Newark and other school districts will use the figures from Murphy’s plan to create preliminary budgets by the end of this month. They can revise their budgets later if the state’s final budget differs from Murphy’s outline.

At a school board meeting Tuesday before districts received their state-aid estimates, Interim Superintendent Robert Gregory said he had traveled to Trenton in December to tell members of Murphy’s team that the district was “running out of things to do” to close its budget gap. He said the district wasn’t expecting to immediately receive the full $140 million that it’s owed under the state formula. But Murphy’s plan suggested the governor would eventually send Newark the full amount.

“The governor’s address offers a promising sign,” Gregory said.

Civics lesson

With district’s blessing, Newark students join national school walkout against gun violence

PHOTO: Patrick Wall

Thousands of Newark students walked out of their schools Wednesday morning in a district-sanctioned protest that was part of a nationwide action calling for an end to gun violence.

At Barringer Academy of the Arts and Humanities in the North Ward, students gathered in the schoolyard alongside Mayor Ras Baraka and interim schools chief Robert Gregory, who offered support to the protesters and even distributed a “student protest week” curriculum to schools.

Just after 10 a.m., hundreds of students watched in silence as a group of their classmates stood in a row and released one orange balloon every minute for 17 minutes — a tribute to the 17 people fatally shot inside a high school in Parkland, Florida last month.

While the Barringer students and faculty mourned those victims they had never met, they also decried gun violence much closer to home: siblings and relatives who had been shot, times they were threatened with guns on the street. Principal Kimberly Honnick asked the crowd to remember Malik Bullock, who was a 16-year-old junior at Barringer when he was shot to death in the South Ward last April.

“Too many lives have been lost way too soon,” she said. “It is time for us to end the violence in our schools.”

School districts across the country have grappled with how to respond to walkouts, which were scheduled to occur at 10 a.m. in hundreds of schools. The student-led action, which was planned in the wake of the Florida mass shooting, is intended to pressure Congress to enact stricter gun laws.

Officials in some districts — including some in New Jersey — reportedly threatened to punish students who joined in the protest. But in Newark, officials embraced the event as a civics lesson for students and a necessary reminder to lawmakers that gun violence is not limited to headline-grabbing tragedies like the one in Parkland — for young people in many cities, it’s a fact of life.

“If there’s any group of people that should be opposed to the amount of guns that reach into our communities, it’s us,” Baraka said, adding that Newark police take over 500 guns off the street each year. “People in cities like Newark, New Jersey — cities that are predominantly filled with black and brown individuals who become victims of gun violence.”

On Friday, Gregory sent families a letter saying that the district was committed to keeping students safe in the wake of the Florida shooting. All school staff will receive training in the coming weeks on topics including “active shooter drills” and evacuation procedures, the letter said.

But the note also said the district wanted to support “students’ right to make their voices heard on this important issue.” Schools were sent a curriculum for this week with suggested lessons on youth activism and the gun-control debate. While students were free to opt out of Wednesday’s protests, high schools were expected to allow students to walk out of their buildings at the designated time while middle schools were encouraged to organize indoor events.

In an interview, Gregory said gun violence in Newark is not confined to mass shootings: At least one student here is killed in a shooting each year, he said — though there have not been any so far this year. Rather than accept such violence as inevitable, Gregory said schools should teach students that they have the power to collectively push for changes — even if that means letting them walk out of class.

“Instead of trying of trying to resist it, we wanted to encourage it,” he said. “That’s what makes America what it is.”

PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Students released one balloon for each of the 17 people killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida last month.

After Barringer’s protest, where people waved signs saying “Love,” “Enough,” and “No to gun violence, several ninth-graders described what it’s like to live in communities where guns are prevalent — despite New Jersey’s tight gun restrictions.

Jason Inoa said he was held up by someone claiming to have a gun as he walked home. Destiny Muñoz said her older brother was shot by a police officer while a cousin was recently gunned down in Florida. The Parkland massacre only compounded her fear that nowhere is safe.

“With school shootings, you feel terrified,” she said. “You feel the same way you do about being outside in the streets.”

Even as the students called for tougher gun laws, they were ambivalent about bringing more police into their schools and neighborhoods. They noted that the Black Lives Matter movement, which they said they recently read about in their freshmen social studies class, called attention to black and Hispanic people who were treated harshly or even killed by police officers.

Ninth-grader Malik Bolding said it’s important to honor the victims of school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida. But the country should also mourn the people who are killed in everyday gun violence and heed the protesters who are calling for it to end, he added.

“Gun violence is gun violence — it doesn’t matter who got shot,” he said. “Everybody should be heard.”