Maintain the independence of UNHS; prevent the co-location of City School of the Arts
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University Neighborhood High School (UNHS), located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was established in 1999 as a partnership between the Department of Education and New York University to prepare students of the community for college and beyond. Today, UNHS is prospering, serving nearly 400 students with an anticipated graduation rate of 91% in June 2017; a remarkable leap from eight years ago when the school was slated to close due to a 48% graduation rate. Proving itself to be a provider of quality education, the demand for enrollment into UNHS continues to grow. For the 2017-2018 school year, we are posed to welcome 465 students, with the DOE Enrollment Office clearing the path for 50 additional students each year thereafter. However, the trajectory of our school’s success is under siege.
NYC Charter School of the Arts (City School of the Arts) Middle School proposes to relocate its District 2 school to District 1, identifying UNHS as its target location. This co-location would serve to add roughly 250 students (not including teachers and administration) to our, already, over utilized spaces, effective September 2017.
We, the undersigned, adamantly oppose the co-location at UNHS for the following reasons:
· Built to be an elementary school, the physical structures at UNHS narrowly meet the needs of teenagers at the peak of their emotional and physical growths. Classrooms are small, fitting no more than 25 students. At least 50% of our classes are ICT, which are taught by two teachers; some students require the assistance of paraprofessionals. Our classrooms are simply ill fitted to accommodate students, their aides, and teachers for proper instruction.
· So narrow are hallways, that strict supervision must be in place to ensure safe transition between classes. Severely steep and narrow staircases make it unsafe and extremely difficult to traverse from one floor to another.
· Four bathrooms (two boys’ and two girls’), located on the first and fifth floors, currently serve our entire school community. Lack of restroom facilities already strain our students; co-mingling of 11 year-olds and 19 year-olds would pose additional challenges.
· The cafeteria can only fit 150 students, with lunch scheduled from 10:40A to 1:00P. In conjunction with the lobby, this space is used as a multipurpose room - used during physical instruction, student performances, assemblies, and large Grand Street Settlement meetings. UNHS does not have a gym. There is no theater or auditorium.
· There is only one science lab. Located on the fifth floor, this room is used by all of our students for Living Environment, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics instruction.
· Nearly 25% of our students require special services, including but not limited to Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), English Language Learners, and 504 Accommodations. So while classrooms may appear “unused,” these rooms are actually utilized on a consistent basis for “pull out” instruction.
· Twelve percent (12%) of students live in temporary housing, including shelters. Nearly ¾ of our student body are Chinese, a majority of whom recently immigrated to the United States.
· One dance room is occupied for five (5) periods a day, serving 50% of our student body to help fulfill physical education requirements. This room, as well as many of our other rooms, are used in collaboration with Grand Street Settlement to offer after-school programs.
This year, the DOE has approved the creation of the Career and Technical Education Hospitality and Business Management Program and we are well on our way in preparations. Additionally, we are offering College Now classes at the school; students are graduating with up to twenty-four (24) college credits. For the first time, many of our families will be proud to say that a member of their family has gone to college. We offer peer tutoring, college advisory, clubs (e.g., art, dance, newspapers, cooking, fitness, LGBTQ, to name a few). UNHS is clearly on a trajectory to help our children reach their potential. Even with limited resources and lack of facilities, our students (90% of whom are Title I) are excelling due to dedicated administrators and teachers as well as supportive parents and guardians. It would be a travesty to further fleece this population in order to accommodate this charter school. Therefore, we urge you to cease and desist from co-locating City School of the Arts at UNHS. Thank you.
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