School 21 is undergoing major changes prior to the new academic year as part of a “turnaround” effort by the district to address under performance and school culture at the troubled 10th Avenue elementary school.
Changes at the school include grouping grades based on themes, a new leadership team led by veteran district principal JoAnne Riviello, and extended day instruction, according to the plan.
District officials are screening all current teachers to transfer out ineffective or partially effective instructors. The school will be split into two themes: literacy for K-5 and civic for 6-8. And a third theme of bilingual education for K-8 students.
Teachers will be compensated for the extra hours of work resulting from the extended day instruction, according to the district.
Some school board members criticized state-appointed district superintendent Donne Evans’ move to replace principal Chanie Peterson.
“We didn’t support or give her the tools to do the job in the first place,” said Errol Kerr. He said the school board should have had an opportunity to discuss the restructuring plan.
Evans provided his plan for School 21 to board members on Monday.
Lilisa Mimms pointed out the district failed to staff every classroom with certified teachers. 7th grade students at the school went without teachers for the first marking period.
“There were substitutes in these classrooms until the end of the school year,” said Mimms on Wednesday night. “We did not have in place what we needed. Shame on the district.”
Mimms also criticized the administration for failing to provide the outgoing principal with adequate resources to turnaround the school. She said the principal being replaced has been effective elsewhere.
One parent, Elizabeth Elias, also opposed removing the current principal. She blamed the school’s low performance on unstable leadership at the school of 745 students.
“There’s a new principal every year,” said Elias. “I don’t want my principal replaced.”
District spokeswoman Terry Corallo said Riviello opened the New Roberto Clemente School as a principal in 2008. She also served as the principal of School 24 from 2008 to 2008.
“The Superintendent selected her for this particular role because she was a successful school leader,” said Corallo. Other administrative assignments for the school have yet to be determined, she said.
School 21 is one of the lowest performing schools in the state. School-wide 12-percent of students met or exceeded expectations in literacy and 7-percent did so in mathematics in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments for 2014-15 school year, according to the state.
More than 20-percent of the students at the school were chronically absent the same year.
“School 21 needs a level of support that’s not there right now,” said school board president Christopher Irving. He said it’s good and well to ensure the administrators receive a “fair shake,” but his concerns lies with the students.
“I care about care about our kids getting a fair shake,” said Irving.
The turnaround designation will not result in neighborhood students being transferred out of the school, said Corallo. She said the the school located at 322 10th Avenue will remain a neighborhood school.
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