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Panel Votes to Close 19 NYC Schools

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The city's Panel for Educational Policy voted early this morning, as expected, to close 19 low performing schools in New York City.

The vote came at around 3:00 A.M. this morning, following an almost eight-hour public hearing attended by more than 2,000 people. The city's education panel voted 9 to 4 in favor of the plan, with all mayoral appointees and the representative for Staten Island supporting it. The representatives for Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens voted against the closures.

Over 300 people signed up to be heard at the hearing, which was held at Brooklyn Tech High School. Brooklyn Councilman James Vacca was one of them. He said that many of the schools had students who needed extra academic help. "Turn those schools around! We in the city council will work with you, but do not throw the baby out with the bathwater and tell us to start all over again!"

But Chancellor Joel Klein said the schools have been failing for too long, and that smaller schools replacing them will do a better job.

Jamaica, Beach Channel and Norman Thomas High Schools are among the schools scheduled to be closed. They were singled out for low graduation rates, and will stop accepting new students this fall. In most cases, small new schools with different faculty will open inside the same buildings.