JUNE 2013 UPDATE: The Performance School, which was designed to replace a failing school that closed in 2008, has been declared a failure and is being replaced by yet another school in the same buiding, Concourse Village Elementary School. No new students were admitted in September 2013, and the phase-out will be completed in June 2016. Parents protested that a new principal wasn't given the chance to turn the school around, the Daily News reported. [Photo from The Daily News.]
AUGUST 2010 REVIEW: The Performance School replaces PS 156, a long-troubled school closed in 2008. Housed in a brown brick building perched over the Conrail rail yards, the Performance School faces many of the same challenges as the school it replaced, including poor attendance and low levels of academic achievement. A wheelchair accessible building, the Performance School has a large special education population.
On the positive side, Principal Lourdes Estrella seems to have won the confidence of increasing numbers of parents. The percentage of parents who said they were satisfied with their child's education increased from 91 percent in 2009 to 94 percent in 2010, while the percentage saying their child was not safe at school declined from 15 percent in 2009 to 6 percent in 2010, according to the Department of Education's Learning Environment Survey. But many teachers remain unsatisfied: only about 25 percent of those responding to the 2010 survey said order and discipline were maintained at the school.
The school's first principal, David Scott Parker, a Leadership Academy graduate who had taught on Manhattan's Upper West Side, said he hoped to create a progressive school with an emphasis on dance and learning through play. However, it was his first administrative job, and teachers complained that discipline deteriorated under his leadership. "He was so sweet, but this is a very tough school," said a teacher. "It was unjust to put a novice in here." According to the teachers' contract, Parker inherited half his staff from the closed PS 156; teachers were demoralized, the teacher said. Parker left after just six months, replaced in January 2009 by Estrella, who had significant experience as principal of another high poverty school in the Bronx, PS 62.
An un-zoned school, the Performance School shares a building with the all-girls Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls Charter School (Clara Hemphill, August 2010)