Historic PS 90 to be shut down

February 2, 2009 4:37:22 PM PST
Over the past two months, New York City school officials have announced that 14 failing schools will be shut down. One of them, a school in the Bronx, is being phased out in spite of its long history and enthusiastic alumni support.

Second graders at PS 90 are facing the gradual shutdown of their school, which opened 125 years ago and has occupied the same Morrisania building for some 80 years.

"The education that we got here, even though it was early education, it was just a wonderful experience," alumnus Stephen Rothman said.

Rothman is among the members of PS 90 alumni who have come back to pay tribute to the school after hearing it would close. So did performance artist Jay Miller, who did a mime show for the kids.

"We were a community, and I don't know how that's going to affect it as a community when 90 is not 90 anymore," he said.

But based on Department of Education standards and the school's more recent performance, it no longer has a place in educating the children of the neighborhood.

On its latest progress report, PS 90 received an overall score of F, worse than the D of the previous year, mostly due to student test scores.

PS 90 principal Patricia West commented on the fairness of the evaluation.

"I think it is fair," she said. "I just think that there should be some more variables considered. I think, because closing is a very final thing."

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum feels that to close failing schools is not the answer.

"It's the tail wagging the dog," she said. "Let's put the resources in the school to help the kids get better if they're not doing well."

The Department of Education says it stands behind its policy to close failing schools. The building will house two other schools, but as of 2011, PS 90 will no longer exist.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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