Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School

5800 20 AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11204 Map
Phone: (718) 621-8800
Website: Click here
Admissions: Brooklyn residents/ed/opt & unscreened programs
Principal: Steven Demarco
Neighborhood: Bensonhurst
District: 20
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: MICHELLE MUNOZ

What's special:

Highly diverse student population;steadily improving graduation rate

The downside:

Overcrowding;grad rate still below city average

The InsideStats

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Our review

Franklin D. Roosevelt High School (FDR) is a large, bright, well-maintained school with a cadre of experienced teachers who enjoy their jobs. There are no metal detectors, and students, including the many new immigrants eager to attend school, are respectful.

FDR is a zoned school that also offers two educational option programs, which take students at a range of performance levels One is a business careers/computer technology program in which students can gain Cisco certification for computer repair. The program also provides accounting and financial management classes. Students in the math/science academy can take electives including forensics, psychology and robotics.

A performing arts program, introduced in 2010, offers concentrations in theatre arts, vocal music and instrumental music. In an effort to improve literacy, arts are linked to core subjects like English and history. For example, students reading Dracula in English class, study Dracula films in the arts courses. There are partnerships with local theatre companies, and the auditorium has been outfitted with a new state of the art sound system. Applicants do not have to audition for the program.

FDR was named a “transformation” school in June 2010 as part of the Education Department’s effort to turn around low-performing schools. The school got a new principal and is receiving to $1.8 million in federal funds over two years as part of the Obama Administration’s School Improvement Grants Fund for transforming low-performing schools.

Principal Steven DeMarco was a student at FDR before becoming a teacher there. He was assistant principal of security when he was tapped to replace well-regarded Principal Geraldine Maione as part of the transformation process in 2010. Teachers indicated respect for DeMarco on the school’s Learning Environment Survey and several said the transition has been relatively smooth. “We are all working very hard to keep improving,” a guidance counselor told us at the 2011 high school fair.

The 2010 graduation rate is below the city’s average, but it has climbed steadily since 2006 even as the percentage of English language learners jumped to about 42 percent from 28 percent of the school’s population. The six-year graduation rate was slightly better in 2010 at 64 percent.

There are 37 languages spoken in the building. Students can enroll in a bilingual Chinese or Spanish language program, and there are numerous ESL classes. The school also provides free English and computer classes for parents.

Freshmen keep the same core teachers all year and take many of their classes with the same students. The school is hoping this approach will keep students from getting lost and will improve a below-average attendance rate that hasn’t budged for several years. Teachers of first-year students have lunch at the same time, allowing them to meet to discuss students. Teachers have agreed to give up their lunch periods to meet with parents who want to sit down with all of their child’s teachers at one time. The staff also promises a two-day turn-around time for any parent phone calls, a guidance counselor said.

High performing students can take honors classes as well as AP classes in eight subjects including biology, Chinese, statistics, and U.S. history. In 2011 there were 300 students enrolled in the school’s College Now program at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College.

The guidance office has 12 counselors, including one for special education students, one devoted to college applications and a full-time financial aid advisor. The majority of graduates enroll in two- or four- year colleges. “Many of our kids are motivated and want to attend college,” said a guidance counselor. “They just need extra time and help learning English.”

The school’s population has declined in recent years, but overcrowding is still an issue. A staggered schedule keeps freshmen in school from 9:30 a.m. until 4:10 p.m. and the rest of the students go from 7:45 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The cafeteria packs 600 kids in at once, but teachers say things don’t usually get out of control.

FDR’s large size allows it to offer 30 clubs, including Chinese cultural, mock trial, film, chess and cheerleading. Golf, wrestling, softball, handball and bowling as well as champion soccer and cricket teams are among FDR’s 20 sports teams.The school is proud of its newly finished football field. (Meredith Kolodner, high school fair, October 2011)

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