Thursday, December 4, 4pm - Emergency PTA Meeting - School Renaming
What’s in a name?
We have some exciting news to announce! In partnership with Cornell Tech, we are looking to re-name our school and reap the full benefits of an association with the prestigious higher education institution that will soon be our island neighbor. Since this is just the beginning of a two-year process, we wanted to start by giving all our parents up-to-the-minute information about the latest developments. We hope you’ll be as thrilled with the news as the rest of us are!
What is the proposed new name of the school?
The Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School. The school will retain 217 as its numeric code for the Department of Education.
Why are you adding “Cornell Tech” to the name of our school?
In 2013, Cornell Tech and New York City entered into an agreement to build a university campus on Roosevelt Island. New York City residents and taxpayers would provide free land, hundreds of millions of dollars in construction bond financing and tax abatements. As part of the deal negotiation, Cornell pledged to ‘adopt’ 217 as part of its educational mission. Adding “Cornell Tech” to the official name of the school is a formalization of that commitment.
Why is the name of a school important?
In Sept 2014, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina directed principals to develop marketing and branding for their schools to make them as attractive to families as possible. Farina said, “Part of the problem that we have is, how do you sell the schools? How do we tell the story of what's happening in your schools so that you keep them as attractive as possible? It’s a competition against each other. And many of the schools have the same message. So how do you have a different message so that you’re doing something a little bit different?”
Why is Cornell Tech’s name valuable to our school?
We have a unique opportunity and a strategic advantage with our relationship with Cornell Tech. We are one of the very few NYC public schools that has a commitment from a university to help with funding, resources, and educational development. The ability to utilize Cornell Tech’s name will help with raising our school’s visibility, grant funding opportunities, and student recruitment.
What will Cornell Tech do for our school?
As part of the deal with the New York City Council, Cornell Tech “embraces the opportunity to adopt PS/IS 217 as part of Cornell’s educational mission.” A number of ways have been identified by Principal Beckman where Cornell would be involved in the school including teacher training and support, STEM education, after-school programming courses, teach events, career day options, and hardware/software programming development. All of these elements are items that Cornell is anxious to pursue and commits to include in its educational outreach as the campus develops.
Has the school sold its naming rights?
No. You can not “sell” naming rights to a New York City public school. However, there are several successful examples of universities adopting NYC public schools such as Hunter, Columbia, and Queens College and thereby formally added their names to the school. Additionally, there are examples, and there is a process for, honorific re-naming in recognition of donors/grantors for school buildings and/or ‘specialized areas’ of public schools such as libraries, playgrounds, auditoriums, etc.
Will Cornell Tech determine the curriculum?
No. The curriculum will always be determined by the school’s administration in collaboration with teachers and parents. Cornell Tech will have an advisory role in curriculum development.
Music, art, writing, and foreign languages are important. Will they be de-emphasized if the name changes?
No. Our school, 217, is committed to the development of the whole child. We will continue to have excellent enrichment resources including music, art, writing, foreign languages, physical education, and cultural studies.
What is the process of renaming or adding a name to the school?
The Chancellor shall have ultimate authority over the naming and renaming of all public schools. Schools shall follow the procedures in this regulation and submit a proposed name change for approval by the Chancellor’s designee by March 1st of the year before the name change is to take effect. There is a codified multi-step process which includes a public notification, public hearing, Community Education Council, PTA endorsement, Principal endorsement, Superintendent approval and finally the Chancellor. However, the Chancellor, or her designee, must give final approval to the name change and retains the right to waive any requirements. For more information on this process, visit the NYC Dept of Education website.
Why is the proposal to rename the school going forward now?
It takes approximately 1-2 years to rename a school. We are starting the process now because construction of Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island recently commenced. Roosevelt Island community leaders have identified Cornell Tech’s contributions towards 217 as one of the positive and productive benefits that the university can give back to the local community. We are pursuing the re-naming now to synchronize the benefit to the school with its presence in the community.