Dr. Roland N. Patterson School, Intermediate School 229 has a unique history in our community. IS 229 is located along the Harlem River in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. The school is adjacent to Roberto Clemente State Park and River Park Towers Apartments. The Towers Apartments skyscraper provides housing for 1654 families in four 44-story buildings and is home to the majority of the school’s students.
The Towers, a Mitchell-Lama project, was constructed in 1974 to provide affordable housing to middle income New Yorkers. The plan for the development included a modern, local school for the children of the residents. Every aspect of Public/Intermediate School 229, which opened in September 1977, including its unique architecture, was intended to support a high-quality educational experience taking advantage of the latest in educational philosophy. In the spirit of the times, the school was designed as a school without walls; rather than classrooms, the school was divided into learning areas. It was felt that this layout would facilitate cooperative learning (inter-class and inter-grade) projects. Adding to the school’s uniqueness is its ready access to the resources of the 25-acre Roberto Clemente State Park. These inherent assets, including a predominantly middle class student population within one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation, contributed to the school’s early success. Students outside the school’s catchments area vied for the few available seats and only the top students were selected. In the early 1980’s, the school was one of the top performing schools in District Nine and was heralded as the school of the future by educators throughout the country. In the interceding quarter of a century since the school opened, the population of the Towers and, consequently IS 229 has shifted dramatically. Demographically, the complex now mirrors the surrounding community in terms of poverty levels and associated social issues.
Many of the families fall below federal poverty guidelines and significant numbers are recent immigrants. IS 229 is now faced with meeting the needs of a student population that is predominantly poor and academically at-risk.
As of May 1, 2004, the school served 654 students in the fifth through eighth grades. According to the latest available information, 55.9% of the students are of African-American descent; 43.6% are Hispanic; 0.0% are Caucasian; and 0.0% are in other categories.
Approximately 16% of the students (94) have Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) and receive the full continuum of services including self-contained instruction (61); integrated inclusion classes (25); and other related services (8) such as Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) within the context of their general education programs. Additionally, 17% of the student's (114) originally speak over ten distinct languages and are English Language Learners (ELL’s). Of the ELLs, the vast majority (85%) is Spanish dominant.
Officially, 82.1% of the students are eligible for free lunch; however, this may not represent the full magnitude of eligibility due to the reluctance of families to divulge financial information. Many of the newly enrolled students are at Level 1 or 2 on standardized City and State Assessments in both English Language Arts and Mathematics.
The student body is serviced by 62 professionals, including teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators. All of the teachers are certified. Of the teachers on staff, 34.5% have been in this school for less than two years. The administrative staff has also undergone dramatic changes: the principal and three assistant principals were assigned to the school after the time of identification in September 2002.