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Staten Island school fights to keep its program

New York Teacher
Chanting “one community, one school,” about 65 parents, students and teachers ra
Bruce Cotler

Chanting “one community, one school,” about 65 parents, students and teachers rally outside PS 16 on Staten Island on April 3 to protest a second co-location planned for the fall — a development that threatens the school’s dual language program.

At a time when Chancellor Carmen Fariña is calling for more dual language options in the city school system, one Staten Island elementary school’s cherished dual language program is increasingly embattled by new schools opening in its building.

PS 16 used to have two Spanish-English dual language classes per grade, starting in kindergarten. But the first co-location in 2008, when PS 74 opened its doors in the PS 16 annex, eventually wiped out half the school’s dual language classes, said Chapter Leader Kathy Bayer.

The impending co-location of PS 10 this fall has now dashed hopes that PS 16 can expand the dual language program to 8th grade.

“That group stays together, but after 5th grade they have nowhere to go,” Bayer said. “We’re very disappointed the mayor didn’t hold the line on co-locations.”

About 32 percent of PS 16’s 800 students are English language learners, mostly from Mexico.

“PS 16 should be allowed to phase up to grade 8 in a dual language format, which is sorely needed in District 31,” said District 31 Representative Sean Rotkowitz.

Plans for PS 10 have not been detailed, so no one knows exactly what space the school will occupy in the building.

“There are no empty rooms at PS 16,” Bayer said.

Related Topics: News Stories, Co-location