- The New Millennium Business Academy Middle School, a Bronx-based academy that is surpassing test score requirements and expectations, is located just two floors below the Junior High School 145 Arturo Toscanini, where the potential for closure due to dramatically different outcomes paints a stark contrast, The New York Times reports.
- Teachers and observers say the differences lie in the leadership approaches between the two principals, with New Millennium having an engaged principal who has aggressively reformed student enrollment and teacher investment, while JHS 145 has experienced turnover and changes to its operations over the last three years.
- Language barriers are a sign of persistent divide between the two schools: Students at JHS 145 nearly double the rate of non-English proficiency at New Millennium, and enrollment losses have forced the school to terminate teachers to the point of having just one certified math instructor.
Some teachers at JHS 145 say that city plans to launch a charter school in the facility have limited the amount of investment it is willing to make in the struggling organization, despite its origins as the sole school at the location with more than 1,600 students. The story speaks to the differences that leadership can make in engaging community members, lawmakers and internal stakeholder to believe in a reclamation project, and to attract resources in support of such a mission.
For superintendents and principals, the message of hope is one that can cultivate a community to buy into increased engagement outside of the school borders, and investment from officials who control purse strings and media coverage of secondary education. Finding youth with experience in turnaround projects could be priority one in saving a school, or taking it to the next level.