December 11, 2009
The Department of Education released details of a controversial space-sharing proposal for a Brooklyn charter and district school today, and it would allow the charter to remain in the building until 2015 and add five more grades of students.
The plan follows months of controversy about whether PAVE Academy Charter School should be allowed to continue to share space with Red Hook’s P.S. 15, and if so, whether the charter should be allowed more classrooms in the building.
PAVE originally agreed to leave the P.S. 15 building at the end of this school year. Its request earlier this year to extend its stay sparked worries among P.S. 15 parents and teachers that the charter school would stay indefinitely, squeezing the district school.
In September, PAVE founder Spencer Robertson said the school was requesting a two-year extension to allow the charter to finish building its own space. The DOE’s proposal would allow the school to stay even longer, until the end of the 2014-15 school year. At that time, if PAVE’s building is not completed, the proposal states the DOE will revisit the question of whether the charter can remain in the P.S. 15 building.
Critics of the space-sharing agreement have also questioned whether the charter school should be allowed to expand in size if it stays in the district building beyond its original agreement. In June, a DOE spokeswoman said that no decision had been made whether the charter school would add new classes if it stayed. The final proposal would let PAVE grow from its current K – 2 capacity up to seventh grade.
In October, DOE officials notified the schools and the district’s parents council that PAVE would stay in the P.S. 15 building. After the parent’s council protested that the unilateral decision dodged the new mayoral control law, which requires a formal proposal and hearings before changes to building space can be made, the DOE switched course.
A hearing on the proposal will be held next month, followed by a vote by the citywide school board to approve or reject the plan at the end of January.