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Decision Made: Columbus Will Close

The Department of Education has made their final decision: Columbus High School will be closing its doors.

At a city-wide meeting in Brooklyn on Thursday, February 3, the DOE made its final vote to close Columbus High School, a Bronx fixture since 1932, and will now officially be phased out by 2014 despite efforts from teachers, parents and students.

In December, the DOE determined that Columbus is no longer capable of providing their students a proper education. School principal Lisa Fuentes was expecting the DOE to make this decision, however, she still is finding it hard to believe that there will no longer be a Columbus High School in three years.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed that we will not be able to keep Columbus High School opened,” Fuentes said. “We realistically expected this decision to be made, it’s just hard to soak in. Our biggest concern is our students and what we can do to help them deal with completing their final years here at Columbus.”

After this school year, Columbus will no longer be enrolling students and the DOE is currently looking into replacing Columbus High School with smaller, charter schools within the original building by 2014.

The DOE told those in attendance at the public meeting that phasing a school out is the hardest thing they have to do, but that establishing new charter schools will ultimately benefit the current and potential students in the community.

In 2009, Columbus was declared one of the “Persistently Lowest Achieving’ schools in the entire state by the New York State Education Department. With a graduation rate of only 47%, Columbus is below the New York City average of 63%.

Over the past year, the staff, students and parents of Columbus had put together meetings and events in hopes to keep the school open, with the last public hearing held on January 20 in final attempts to come up with any ideas that might persuade the DOE to change their minds.

It’s hard to keep a positive atmosphere with the remaining students, said Lisa Fuentes, but the faculty is vowing to keep their focus on keeping the students on the right path towards graduation.

After the vote was taken by the DOE, Fuentes said that the school is working with Columbus alumni to begin saving items from the school and perhaps put together events that will celebrate the schools history.

“The memories that I have at Columbus are countless and it’s so sad to see that it’s closing for good,” said Laura Loberto, class of 1969.

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