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Thread: City Hall Academy opens

  1. #1

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    NY Post...



    March 25, 2003 -- Mayor Bloomberg yesterday officially opened the glitzy new $9 million City Hall Academy to students at the Department of Education's Tweed headquarters - replete with opulent classroom chandeliers, snazzy video bulletins and a spectacular rotunda.

    But United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten blasted the academy as an "unnecessary luxury" given the city's fiscal crisis and the mayor's talk of laying off city workers such as teachers' aides.

    "This project sends all the wrong signals," Weingarten said.

    Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said students will spend two weeks at the school to study the history of New York City. *One classroom even gives a visual geography lesson: A colorful map of the city is embedded in the floor and occupies about half the classroom.

    Seventy-five third-graders from three different schools - PS 234 in Battery Park City and PS 21 and PS 67 in Brooklyn - were bused in yesterday to learn about the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Bloomberg, despite the city's fiscal crisis, followed through on his promise to open a school at the new education headquarters located in the former Tweed Courthouse - adjacent to City Hall. He said the academy's presence will remind top educators that their main mission is to serve students.

    Last year, Weingarten called the academy plan "a nice little program."

    It cost the city $7.5 million to convert the first floor of the courthouse into an education facility, which includes seven classrooms, a cafeteria, an administrative office, and high-tech video bulletins in the main entrance.

    But one City Hall source said the price tag for school is closer to $4 million because some of the renovations would have occurred even without the new academy.

    Weingarten estimated it will cost $1.6 million to operate the new school on a yearly basis, including bus service.

    The union leader also chided the educational rationale behind the school, charging it's nothing more than a glorified "two-week trip" for a small group of students.

    But Klein defended the academy.

    "This is all about substance," he said. "Kids will get to know firsthand not only the city's culture and history but also the kids who live in other boroughs, go to other schools and come from different heritages."

    Academy Principal Ann Switzer stressed that the history program will supplement the basic curriculum focusing on reading, writing and math.

    There are currently six teachers at the school.

    When fully operational in the fall, 200 elementary and middle schools will be taught at Tweed each day.

  2. #2

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein converse in the lobby of the building that houses the new City Hall Academy, the Tweed Courthouse. March 24, 2003

    A student reacts to seeing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein outside his school bus as he arrives to the City Hall Academy. March 24, 2003

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein welcome students to the opening of City Hall Academy March 24, 2003

  3. #3
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    Look at that beautiful museum quality building that I can never go into! We've discussed at length on this forum what the building should be used for, but what's done is done. I'm just glad that if it is to be used for teaching kids, New York City and its history is at the heart of the curriculum.

  4. #4
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    March 25, 2003
    Mayor's 'School' Opens at Tweed Courthouse

    Third graders from Brooklyn and TriBeCa yesterday became the first denizens of City Hall Academy, the Tweed Courthouse "school" that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hopes will symbolize his passion for improving public education.

    Mr. Bloomberg clambered off a yellow school bus with children from Public School 67 in Fort Greene and ushered them into Tweed, whose ground floor has undergone a $7 million transformation into classrooms as glisteningly perfect as stage sets. For two weeks, the 75 students will study math, reading, science and history around a single theme: the Brooklyn Bridge, which they can ogle from the windows of Tweed but cannot visit because of the terrorism threat.

    "You're going to learn how the bridge was built underwater, came up from underwater and they marched elephants over it to make sure it was strong enough to hold everybody," Mr. Bloomberg told students from P.S. 67, P.S. 21 in Bedford-Stuyvesant and P.S. 234 in TriBeCa. "I'm going to stop in occasionally to make sure everyone is working hard."

    The Bloomberg administration had originally named the school Tweed Academy, but quietly changed it to the blander City Hall Academy after critics said it was outrageous to honor William Marcy Tweed, the corrupt 19th-century political boss who built the grandiose courthouse. Asked about the name change yesterday, a mayoral spokesman did not mention the controversy.

    "The mayor wanted the name to reflect the academy's proximity to the heart of our municipal government," said Jerry Russo, the spokesman.

    Mr. Bloomberg faced new criticism yesterday from Randi Weingarten, president of the city teachers' union, who said the academy was an "unnecessary luxury" in a year when the education department is facing $500 million in cuts and 1,100 paraprofessionals could be fired. Neither City Hall nor the Education Department would say how much the academy's operating budget would be, but Ms. Weingarten estimated that it would be at least $1.6 million.

    "Given the fiscal crisis, this project sends all the wrong signals," Ms. Weingarten said in a statement.

    The school plan had previously come under attack from historic preservationists, who rued Mr. Bloomberg's decision to use Tweed as the school system headquarters instead of a museum. The preservationists had hoped that city building codes would foil the mayor's plan to put a school on the ground floor. Mr. Bloomberg got around that hurdle by using the space not as an actual school for a fixed group of students, but as a spot for extended field trips.

    Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, sounded less upset about the plan yesterday than she did last year when Mr. Bloomberg announced it.

    "There is a part of me that says anything that brings schoolchildren down to the civic center to get to know their government better is a good thing," she said, "but it's still a limited public use for a wonderful building."

    Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has named Anna Switzer, the popular principal of P.S. 234, to be principal of the academy. Three teachers are also working there and more will be chosen by an "open selection process" later this year, Ms. Switzer said.

    Only nine classes of third graders are participating this spring, but in the fall seventh graders from around the city will come, too. Each class will work by itself in the morning, then join other visiting classes in the afternoon for projects.

    The academy consists of seven huge, brightly painted, well-stocked classrooms and a lunchroom. Mr. Klein said that teachers would eventually come for training there, and that there would also be classes for high school students and parents.

    Ms. Switzer said the three third-grade classes visiting this week were recommended by regional superintendents. P.S. 234 is one of the highest performing schools in the city, while at P.S. 67, only 16.8 percent of fourth graders were reading at grade level last year. The figure at P.S. 21 was 63.4 percent. P.S. 234 serves a mostly white, affluent population, while students at P.S. 67 and P.S. 21 are largely black and poor.

    "We plan to rotate thousands of children through this building," Ms. Switzer said. "We want kids from every borough, we want all kinds of kids."

  5. #5
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    West Harlem

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    Dumb, dumb idea. Sure, it's nice symbolism, but in reality it's a waste of money.

  6. #6

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    Quote: from NYatKNIGHT on 3:44 pm on Mar. 25, 2003
    Look at that beautiful museum quality building that I can never go into!
    I agree its not only a waste of money, but a waste of space as well. *The academy is a nice idea, but it could have been done anywhere. *The money spent on refurbishing the Tweed could have been spent on other uses since it really won't be open to the public.

  7. #7

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    #Moderation Mode

    <a href="" target="_self">Moved here</a>

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    The Nation's Capitol (DC)

    Default City Hall Academy opens

    I agree NYGuy that this could have been done anywhere, but I also consider it a total blessing for those children who now have a beautiful place to learn! *It is exciting to think of it from the perspective of the children served by it!

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