Panel for Educational Policy to Vote on WEB DuBois & Brownsville Academy Consolidation

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The Panel for Educational Policy (aka NYC Department of Education) has scheduled a meeting on January 24, 2018, 6:00 PM at PS 20, the Anna Silver School, located at 166 Essex Street, New York, NY, wherein the panel will vote on the consolidation of WEB DuBois Academic High School (17K489), located at 402 Eastern Parkway, with Brownsville Academy High School (17K568), located at 1150 East New York Avenue (K907). Both are transfer schools that serve “overaged and undercredited students who seek to attain high school diplomas”. The grounds for the consolidation are both schools are underenrolled. Each currently has under 200 students.

The Panel for Educational Policy’s (PEP) notice describes, “WEB DuBois and Brownsville Academy have persistently struggled with low enrollment, each serving fewer than 200 students per year over the last five years. Enrollment at WEB DuBois has declined by 46% in the last five years and enrollment at Brownsville Academy has declined by 29% in the last five years”. Enrollment numbers directly affect school budgets and therefore, the programming provided to the pupils.

WEB DuBois High School, where Dr. Catherine Costa is Principal, currently shares 402 Eastern Parkway with a suspension center and Restart, an alternative high school. WEB DuBois offers music and video production, intramural basketball, student government, career readiness services and academic tutoring. Should the consolidation go through, there is no other transfer school to serve the western portion of School District 17. Further, there are no plans to bring in another school at 402 Eastern Parkway at this time.

Brownsville Academy High School, where Ms. Carol Ying is Principal, is located also in School District 17, in the eastern portion. It offers the Learn to Work Initiative, College Now at Brooklyn College, college tours, dance, drama, cheerleading, tennis, chess, internships and the school newsletter. It shares space with Unity Preparatory Charter School, CAMBA, a nonprofit service agency, and the Executive Superintendent of Equity and Access. CAMBA is in the building as a result of Brownsville Academy High School being selected into the NYC Community Schools program in 2014. The NYC Community Schools program provides a wraparound of services for the students and their families.

The public review period for this proposal spans from November 30, 2017 through January 23, 2018, 6:00 PM. Public hearings were held on December 13, 2017 at WEB DuBois Academic High School and December 14, 2017 at Brownsville Academy High School.

WEB DuBois’ Principal Dr. Catherine Costa is not in agreement with the consolidation on many grounds. One concern is W.E.B. DuBois High School and Brownsville Academy are the only two transfer high schools located in District 17. However, Brownsville Academy is located on the border of District 23.

W.E.B. DuBois High School is home to the New York City WEB Center, The Reverend Clarence Norman Recording Studio and the W.E.B. DuBois Television Studio. The WEB Center is a digital lounge equipped with Apple desktops, laptops and iPads. The recording studio and television production studio are equipped with professional-grade music and video production equipment. Further, W.E.B. DuBois High School recently received funding in the amount of $250,000 from St. Assemblyman Walter Mosley to replace obsolete computers, laptops and smart boards. Eliminating W.E.B. DuBois High School would eliminate student access to these amazing resources.

It is unlikely that eliminating W.E.B. DuBois High School will increase enrollment at Brownsville Academy High School. We have surveyed 100% of our student population about their thoughts on the proposed consolidation. 100% stated that they do not think consolidation is a good idea and 100% stated that if the consolidation is approved, they will not attend Brownsville Academy High School.

W.E.B. DuBois High School is located in the 71st Precinct. Brownsville Academy High School is located in the 73rd Precinct. CompStat data provided by the New York City Police Department indicates that the crime rate in the 73rd Precinct increased by 2% in 2017, whereas the crime rate in the 71st Precinct decreased by 3.5%.

Brownsville Academy Principal Ms. Carol Ying was not available for comment due to leaving the high school early due to illness.

Note: Given Rev. Clarence Norman, Sr.’s work to establish WEB DuBois Academic High School, this writer sought comments from his son, former Assembly member Clarence Norman, Jr. He has not been available for comment.