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Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan to Build 20 New 'Imagine' High Schools in NYC

Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan to Build 20 New 'Imagine' High Schools in NYC

20 'Reimagined' middle and elementary schools–existing schools that will be transformed–are also part of the project.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced plans for the Imagine Schools NYC Challenge, a public-private partnership to create 40 new city schools, on October 3. The challenge encompasses the creation of 20 new “Imagine” high schools and the transformation of 20 existing “Reimagine” middle and elementary schools across all five boroughs. There will be at least one new high school in each borough. The challenge aims to empower educators, students, families, and communities to work together to build a school system that will better support everyone.

“We are successful when we do things with communities, not to communities or for communities,” Carranza said in a press release. “We are changing the paradigm with Imagine Schools NYC–coming together with educators, students, families, and community partners to design radically different schools from the ground up, and to redesign existing schools to meet the demands of the future.”

Beyond the 40 schools in the plan, Imagine Schools will also work to better the 1,800 schools throughout NYC. All 40 Imagine schools will serve as models for the rest of the system. They will be “innovative, academically rigorous, community-driven, inclusive, and intentional in their commitment to serve all students,” according to the press release, and will not have selective admissions.

Community and school members can form design teams beginning immediately (and continuing over the next three years), and apply to become design schools. Design teams will construct proposals for what they picture their “Imagine” school will look like.

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Some examples of school features design teams could propose include “authentic, real world learning (internships, apprenticeships, college courses and visits, projects in the community); innovative themes; college, community and industry partnerships; changes to curriculum to align with interesting, high-skill, high-demand sectors; focus on arts, civic engagement, technology or a STEM subject.”

Selected design teams will advance to additional application rounds this winter and spring, and the first round of “Imagine” and “Reimagine” school designs will be announced in May 2020. The design team application is available online.

The Imagine Schools NYC Challenge is partially funded by the XQ Institute, the country’s leader in transformational high school design, and Robin Hood, NYC’s largest poverty-fighting nonprofit. XQ will support plans for new and existing high schools, while Robin Hood will support plans for middle and elementary schools. The initial investment in the challenge is $32 million in both public and private funds.

“What our system needs isn’t just new schools—it's schools that listen to all the voices that are part of the system–the students, parents, teachers, and surrounding communities–and create radical change in response,” said Meredith Hill, Assistant Principal of Columbia Secondary School, in the press release. "The Imagine Schools NYC initiative is what our city- and our school system overall–needs.”