NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza released a plan Wednesday to diversify middle schools on the Upper West Side and in South Harlem.
"Students benefit from integrated schools and I applaud the District 3 community on taking this step to integrate their middle schools," the schools chancellor said in a statement. "I hope what we're announcing in District 3 will be a model for other districts to integrate schools across the City, and I look forward to working with parents and educators as we implement this plan and strengthen middle schools across the district."
The plan will prioritize 25 percent of seats in each middle school in District 3 for low-income, lower-performing students who apply.
Those students would be selected by a mix of their course grades, state test scores and free lunch eligibility. The remaining 75 percent of seats are open to all students.
"It's also widely known, in terms of the research that shows, when you integrate schools, that all students do not only well, but they do better," Carranza told CBS2's Political Reporter Marcia Kramer. "We're New Yorkers. We accept new ideas and we run with them. We fight a little bit about them first, but then we run with them and we get great results."
Booker T. Washington Junior High School is one of the top performers of the 16 middle schools in District 3 on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Kramer reported. Last year, it had a student body that was 62 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian and eight percent black. Seventeen percent were economically needy.
Kramer asked Booker T. Washington teacher Susan Kricorias how she would cope with students of different abilities.
"That's how it used to be. That's fine, that's good," she said. "But they need to send funds for that kind of thing so we can support students."
The plan came after months of heated community debate. Some parents still have concerns, like having low-performing students in the same classroom as high performing students.
"I want the schools to be diversified, but I also want us to have a standard," mother Jihea Park said.
"What a concern is that there are many schools that are under-performing and they aren't getting what they need," said mom Megan Parker.
Mott Hall II, a middle school in District 3, has already diversified.
"The experience is to let them enrich one another through their learning and through the exchange of ideas," Principal Marlon Lowe said.
The plan goes into effect for students entering sixth grade in 2019. For more information, click here.
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