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 struggled to improve reading and math scores.
Because of its poor performance, the Department of Education began to phase out PS 14 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 stayed until they graduated and the school officially closed in 2015.
The school faced many challenges. Staten Island's largest public housing complex is down the block and more than 90 percent of the students received free or reduced price lunch. Attendance was very low, with the average student missing 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)
PS 14 had 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. (Pamela Wheaton, October 2015)