P.S. 14 Cornelius Vanderbilt
When we visited PS 14 in 2005, we found the atmosphere nurturing and calm, in contrast to its rough surroundings in Stapleton, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Staten Island. Despite the emphasis on literacy we noticed on our visit, the school has struggled to improve reading and math scores -- students' scores are well below the citywide average.
Because of its poor performance, the DOE began to phase out the school in fall 2012. Younger students were transfered to a new elementary school in the building, PS 78. Students who entered the 3rd grade and higher in fall 2012 will stay until they graduate and the school is fully phased out in 2015.
The school faces many challenges. Staten Island's largest public housing complex is down the block from PS 14 and over 90 percent of the students receive free or reduced price lunch. The school also has very low attendance rates -- the average student misses at least a day of school every two weeks, according to Education Department data.
Community members and school advocates questioned why the DOE was closing the school just to open another neighborhood school in the same building. According to Schoolbook, more than 400 parents, students and staff showed up at a rally to voice support for the school, including a teacher who said the DOE has ignored the school's pleas for support for years.
But Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro told Staten Island Live he believed that the school was long overdue for an "intervention." "Looking at the statistics there, they weren't doing a very good job. Something had to do be done." (The photograph on this page is from SIlive.com)
On a positive note, nine in 10 teachers believe the school sets high standards for learning and challenges students, according the 2012 Learning Environment Survey. PS 14 has deep roots in the borough -- it is over a century old and links generations of Staten Islanders. Some students have parents and grandparents who also attended grammar school there, according to Schoolbook.
(Anna Schneider, DOE statistics, news reports, December 2012.)