Bronx School Closing – Too Few ESL Teachers?

Parents from M.S. 325 at the PEP meeting on Feb. 28 where the decision on the school closing was made. (Photo by Nancy Rodriguez-Delgado via Bronx Times)

The DOE Panel for Education Policy on Feb. 28 voted in favor of closing Urban Science Academy M.S. 325 due to low test scores and decreasing enrollment. As Sarah Valenzuela reports in Bronx Times, members of the school attribute the low performance to a lack of resources for the students, many of whom are immigrants.

Nancy Rodriguez-Delgado, president of the middle school’s Parent Association, called the decision “unfair,” saying that one-third of the student body are English language learners and the school only has enough funding for two ESL teachers.

“Their decision was so unfair, they always talk about numbers and how M.S. 325 doesn’t meet grade level requirements,” said Rodriguez-Delgado. “But they don’t see the numbers we’re seeing and it doesn’t make sense.”

“We are trying so hard to learn, we love our teachers and this school is our home,” said Gabriell Cabrera, one of the ELL students at M.S. 325. “I was upset when we were told the school would close.”

Most schools get funding through Fair Student Funding, which basically gives schools with students who have disabilities or are ELLs more funding based on the need, according to the DOE spokesperson.

Many members of the school say that the DOE has “continuously” sent ELL and special needs students but have not provided the money or resources for them.

In an Amsterdam News story by Stephon Johnson, PA president Rodriguez-Delgado spoke about another instance in which support was not provided:

Rodriguez also said that half of the classrooms at M.S. 325 are special education classes. The building containing MS 325, the Teller Educational Campus, in the Bronx, also had Junior High School 145, which closed last year. According to Rodriguez and other advocates, the community was promised a high level of support for their school, but things ended up going the other way.

“Not only did they close JHS 145, they brought in a charter school that’s not even part of our community and comes from another district,” said Rodriguez. “So not only did they not keep their promise, not only did they not give us resources, they are taking our space. Our children deserve better.”

Read more on M.S. 325 at Bronx Times and Amsterdam News.

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