School officials Thursday said they are pleased that Hempstead High School has cleared a hurdle that could help lift it out of receivership status, but they encouraged the community to pitch in to further elevate the district.
“As of last year, we did make ‘demonstrable improvement’ for the high school,” said Associate Superintendent James Clark, meaning the school had met benchmarks imposed by the state Education Department when it placed the school in “persistently struggling” status two years ago.
During a public meeting at the school, Clark said Hempstead High has shown improvement in 92 percent of the areas targeted by the state, ranging from academics to safety.
The positive update drew applause from the roughly 50 people in attendance — a mix of teachers, administrators and residents.
Clark, speaking alongside Superintendent Shimon Waronker, also said administrators hope to show the state they can raise the school’s 37 percent graduation rate to 55 percent in the short term, with an ultimate goal of graduating every student
Clark and Waronker said they hope to shed the “persistently struggling” label by creating an atmosphere of success that includes longer but fewer classes, summer school, and academic programs that emphasize science, technology, engineering and math.
Clark posted a chart outlining items to be implemented and expanded under the categories of School Structure, Academic Programs and School Culture.
Hempstead High is the only school on Long Island deemed “persistently struggling” by the state for not performing up to standards for at least 10 years.
The district’s Alberta B. Gray Schultz Middle School is deemed a “struggling” school — defined by the state as one that has fallen short of standards for the previous three years.
State officials are reviewing both schools and will decide over the next several weeks whether to have them placed under independent receivership. The schools are currently in receivership but under district control.
“We will need to work to make sure the schools are no longer in receivership,” Waronker said.