Panel Votes to Bring Millennium Brooklyn to Park Slope
Last night the Panel for Educational Policy, which consists of 13 appointed members and Chancellor Cathie Black, voted to locate Millennium Brooklyn High School inside the John Jay High School Complex making it the fourth high school in that large Seventh Avenue building in Park Slope. Prior to the vote there was a four-hour public hearing at Brooklyn Tech. From reports on Park Slope Patch, it sounds like the public hearing, attended by staff, students and other supporters of the schools within the John Jay Complex, was similar to the public hearing at the John Jay Complex last week.
There has been much controversy surrounding the way the Department of Education has handled the proposal to bring Millennium to Park Slope. It was originally presented as a proposal but soon seemed a fait accompli after Lisa Gioe Cord, the principal who has been selected to run Millennium Brooklyn, told her current school that she would be leaving (to start the new school).
At a hearing last week at the John Jay Complex staff and students complained that the John Jay schools were “set up to fail” when they were routinely denied funding for, among other things, improvements to the schools derelict building.
Others cried racism and “separate but unequal” treatment because the new school is set to be funded very generously by the Department of Education, as it is considered a selective school and part of the chancellor’s New School Initiative.
Assemblyman Jim Brennan told the crowd last week: “This proposal is an egregious insult to the existing schools. Don’t blame the demonstrators. Take Millennium and take it off the table right now…Strengthen and build what’s here before you. Before you do anything new, you must help those who are here.”
OPINION: What to many seemed like a fait accompli is now a reality. On the plus side, Millenium Brooklyn could be a “win by association” for the schools now in the complex in terms of much needed improvements (thought it is painfully obvious that this funding would never have happened without Millennium). What has been forgotten in all this is that Millennium Brooklyn has the potential to be an excellent new high school choice for Brooklyn students.
It is time to take a look at the recommendations presented by City Councilmember Brad Lander that he believes will be critical in helping to ease—and possibly heal—the tensions raised by bringing the new school into the building.
- Insure safety with respect for all students by removing the metal detectors for the entire John Jay campus and developing a strong building-wide safety plan.
- Commit to diversity at the John Jay campus by ensuring that the John Jay campus includes an ongoing mix of non-selective and selective options, and that the new school – and all schools there – work to reflect Brooklyn’s diversity, and serve English language learners and students with special needs.
- Provide equitable and adequate resource investments across schools by implementing long-overdue building-wide improvements, and making sure that investments tied to these changes serve all the schools equally.
- Conduct space planning in an equitable, transparent, inclusive manner, in consultation with all the principals.
- Establish a “John Jay Campus Council” to build community among the schools, and partnerships with the broader community to help the schools succeed together, create shared spaces and institutions, fundraise, and connect to resources.
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