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School Headquarters in the Budget Crosshairs

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Click here for free trial login. Loading content Grade 3 , reading fluency , comprehension , reading comprehension , academic failure , instructional leadership , high school. Find content related to this author. Lehman High School, a large and troubled Bronx school that has endured downsizing, threats of closure, forced leadership changes, and state intervention in just the past few years.

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John Powers, an assistant principal at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, will replace Rose LoBianco, under whose tumultuous four-year tenure the school narrowly avoided being shut down by the city only to be targeted by the state this past year for potential closure or takeover. LoBianco, who will now take the helm of a small Bronx high school, had been sent to Lehman after its two previous principals were forced to resign due to misconduct. Powers learned less than two weeks ago that the city had approved him to lead Lehman, he said in a parting email to the 24 Bronx Science English teachers he oversaw.

That program is the latest in a head-spinning series of interventions attempted at Lehman.

At different points during the past five years, city officials have proposed hiring a nonprofit group to help manage the school, replacing LoBianco and half the faculty , and closing the school. Meanwhile, the city under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg shuttered other large schools near Lehman, forcing it to absorb many challenging students. Ultimately, the city decided to keep Lehman open, but shrank its enrollment and opened several smaller high schools in its building.

By last year, Lehman had fewer than 1, students, compared to nearly 3, students in Powers inherits a school grappling with structural and cultural challenges, according to students and teachers. Many teachers have trouble maintaining control of their classrooms, said junior Davon Jones and senior Justin Diaz, brothers who are transferring from Lehman to a school in Long Island.

The Crosshairs of High Expectation and Poverty -

Both said the school felt disorganized, explaining that administrators had changed their class schedules and teachers midway through the year. In a survey this year, less than half of teachers said they would recommend the school to parents, and just over a third said order was maintained. At the end of the year, about a dozen teachers and several assistant principals left, according to Greenberg.

In such cases, he said, it is common to choose a replacement in August. He added that the department sent support staff to Lehman this summer to help with class scheduling and hiring. A year veteran of the city school system, Powers has taught English at a high school for struggling students and trained other teachers, according to an Aug. Jordan Ronson, a Bronx Science English teacher who retired after this past school year, said Powers used his background as a former teachers union representative to connect with teachers and get them to share their concerns. Still, Powers insisted that they follow certain directives about how to run their classes, according to Ronson.

Powers, who will hold a meet-and-greet with Lehman parents next Tuesday, did not respond to a request for comment.