Posts tagged "space wars"
May 2, 2012
A public hearing to discuss Success Academy’s bid to open two new charter schools in Manhattan’s District 2 next year was dominated by angry residents who said the district’s schools are too crowded to share space.
Parents from the district and members of its elected parent council said they opposed the proposal from the charter network because the district — which includes the Upper East Side down through Greenwich Village, Tribeca, and Lower Manhattan — is already overcrowded.
The council passed resolutions at the end of March calling for Success Academy to find its own building instead of moving into existing public schools and for a moratorium on charter school applications in the district.
“You can come in if you’re invited, but if the families are saying don’t come in, I don’t think you should come in,” said Shino Tanikawa, president of the Community Education Council for District 2. Tanikawa said she thinks of charter schools as “vampires.”
Most parents at the public hearing had children enrolled in one of the six schools located at the Julia Richman Education Complex on the Upper East Side or P.S. 158, whose co-located school, P.S. 267, is set to depart for its own space in September.
“What you’re essentially trying to do if you want to get into the complex is put 14 pounds of sand in a 10 pound bag,” said Guy Workman, whose daughter attends Talent Unlimited High School in the Richman Complex.
Widespread crowding is nothing new in District 2, and neither is criticism of Success Academy schools: The charge that it should find its own space has followed the network, which is run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, virtually wherever it has sought to open. (more…)
November 30, 2011
Tensions ran high at the city’s first charter school co-location hearing of the year Tuesday night as advocates and opponents of the city’s plan to open a new Success Academy school in Brownstone Brooklyn packed the proposed site.
Officials from the Department of Education and SUNY’s Charter School Institute defended plans to add Brooklyn’s third Success Charter Network school to a four-story Cobble Hill building that already houses three other schools, saying that the building has space for all four schools.
The charter school would admit 80 to 90 kindergarten and first-grade students in 2012 and grow by one grade per year until becoming a kindergarten through 5th-grade school.
According to the DOE official in charge of new schools, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, enrollment at the charter school would ultimately increase to somewhere between 500 and 640 students, and the total number of students in the building would climb to 1,400 or more.
“That would bring the school to 108 percent occupancy,” he said.
In response, a member of the sometimes-rowdy audience who said he was a teacher and was later ejected by police after he shouted inappropriate words called out, “Where do you want the kids to learn, the bathrooms? Where do the other 8 percent go to class?” (more…)
November 29, 2011
Back-to-back rallies set for this afternoon augur a contentious co-location hearing for the newest outpost in the Success Charter Network.
The creation of Cobble Hill Success Academy, which won approval earlier this year to open next fall in Brooklyn’s District 13, has sparked conflict in District 15, the location of the school’s proposed site. Advocates and critics of the city’s plan to co-locate the charter school with two secondary schools and a special education program will lay out their cases during tonight’s public hearing — and beforehand, in rallies set for outside the Baltic Street building.
The public hearing is the first of the year and ushers in a season of rancorous co-location hearings.
Some families have lamented crowding in high-performing local elementary schools and said they would appreciate new options. But others say they are worried that the new school would strain resources at the proposed site without effectively serving the high-needs populations it was originally intended to serve.
Cobble Hill Success’s promise to serve low-income, immigrant families in District 13 was a boon to its application, according to Pedro Noguera, an education professor who green-lighted the school’s original application as a member of the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute.
“We have tried to take the position recently that we can put charter schools where there is clearly a need for better schools for kids, so targeting the more disadvantaged communities. We have also seen the areas that are a saturation of charter schools, so we want to encourage them to open in areas that have a high need and aren’t being served,” said Noguera, who will be participating in an education debate this evening in the West Village. ”A school in Cobble Hill clearly does not meet that criteria.” (more…)
November 28, 2011
A day before a public hearing about a space-sharing proposal that would bring the Success Charter Network to Brownstone Brooklyn, advocates of an alternative plan took to the street to promote their idea.
The counter-proposal, made after the Department of Education announced it had chosen a Baltic Street school building for the charter school chain’s newest outpost, would use the space instead for a preschool.
Success Charter operator Eva Moskowitz suggested in the New York Post today that the counter-proposal came from the teachers union in an attempt to block her school from getting space in the building.
That’s “absolutely not true,” said Jeffrey Tripp, the UFT chapter leader at the School for International Studies, one of the schools in the building, at a press conference today. He said the preschool proposal is supported by a “grassroots movement.”
“I’m proud to be a member of the UFT but this [alternate proposal] is not something the UFT was behind,” he said.
The plan — for which DOE officials say no application has yet been received — was first floated by a retired DOE official and a local politician in response to the DOE’s plan to site Cobble Hill Success Academy in the building that International Studies shares with the School for Global Studies and a special education program. It’s also being supported by the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group.
The dust-up has AQE, which typically advocates against school closures and co-locations on the grounds that they are unfair to poor and minority students, in the position of supporting a preschool program that would likely serve many affluent families. (more…)
October 31, 2011
Success Charter Network CEO Eva Moskowitz cut short a pitch to Brownstone Brooklyn parents Saturday after dozens of protesters interrupted her presentation.
Moskowitz was holding an informational meeting at a public library about her newest school, which the Department of Education has proposed siting in a Cobble Hill building that currently houses two secondary schools and a program for severely autistic students. But the roughly 15 parents who said they came to learn more about Cobble Hill Success Academy, which would open next fall, were easily outnumbered by opponents of Moskowitz’s bid to open a school in the area.
Last week, the opponents said they planned to stand outside the Carroll Gardens library during Moskowitz’s noon information session, but freezing rain drove them inside, where they distributed brochures criticizing Cobble Hill Success and charter schools more generally.
Shouting, “We have information for parents also! This district doesn’t have failing schools, it has successful elementary schools!” they interrupted a presentation made by parents from the Upper West Side school that was Moskowitz’s first foray into a neighborhood that, like Cobble Hill, includes many middle-class families and high-performing schools.
As the back-and-forth between audience members and presenters grew more confrontational, Moskowitz admonished the crowd. (more…)
July 20, 2011
A legal challenge that prompted city education officials to rewrite all of its co-location plans was denied today.
Well before the co-location was approved in February, parents at Brooklyn’s PS 9 had battled against the city’s plan to move Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School into the building. In April, then-State Education Commissioner David Steiner halted the co-location plan, agreeing with the parents that the city Department of Education’s space-sharing plan had many flaws. After the city revised the plan — along with all of the other co-location plans that had the same problems — parents appealed again.
Today, state officials rejected that appeal, clearing the way for Brooklyn East Collegiate to take over classrooms and some shared space in the Prospect Heights building this fall.
The decision comes as a blow not just to PS 9 parents but to others across the city who are trying to prevent co-location plans from moving forward. Steiner’s April ruling on PS 9, which has come to be known as the Espinet decision, emboldened groups of people at other schools facing co-locations this fall to file their own appeals with the state. In recent weeks, State Commissioner of Education John King dismissed two other appeals, allowing site plans for Coney Island Preparatory Charter School and Explore Charter School to move forward.
Today’s decision did not come from King, but from his deputy, Valerie Grey. (more…)
July 8, 2011
People on both sides of the charter school fight are not happy about a hefty City Council earmark that’s going to the teachers union’s charter school.
The funding, sponsored by City Councilman Erik Dilan and approved last month in the council’s annual capital budget allocations, gives the union $2 million to develop a plan for moving its charter school out of the two East New York buildings it shares and into space of its own.
The announcement comes as charter schools and their critics are locked in fierce debate over how the city funds and allocates space to charter schools. That dispute is central to a lawsuit, filed in May by the UFT and NAACP, that seeks to stop 16 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding.
The lawsuit alleges that some charter schools receive disproportionate public resources, and some of its backers say the City Council earmark is another example.
Teacher activist Norm Scott called the funding “a double outrage, maybe a triple outrage.” (more…)
June 10, 2011
(Update: A spokesperson for the city Administration for Children Services tells GothamSchools that Strong Place and Bethel Day Care Centers will continue operating until Friday, June 17, in order to give parents more time to find alternative care options.)
A charter school with an uncertain future has found private space for the next school year, hoping to appease the neighborhood opposition where it’s currently co-located.
But in the process, it collided with another citywide controversy: the mayor’s decision to close day care centers.
Brooklyn Prospect Charter School has co-located at Sunset Park High School since it opened two years ago, but that community wants them out. So last week, the school signed a one-year lease this week to move into 238 Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill. A permanent, privately-funded facility scheduled to open in 2012 is being built down the road.
The challenge is that the previous tenants at the rental building were two popular day care centers that have been neighborhood institutions for over 30 years. Bethel Day Care and Strong Place Day Care are two of eight programs ending as a result of Mayor Bloomberg’s budget cuts.
Today, Bethel and Strong Place were among five centers to close their doors for good. Parents, employees and young children from the centers joined Council Member Steve Levin outside of the building to protest the cuts.
“We’re here to stand up against what the city has done. Stand up against what the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School has done,” said Levin, who was joined by State Assembly Member Joan Millman and about 30 others. “These programs, we have fought for year after year, so that your children have a safe place to stay.”
The centers would have closed regardless, but Levin partially blamed Brooklyn Prospect’s pursuit of the $750,000 lease for the inability to restore funding.
“It’s tough enough to get funding restored for the daycare centers, but when you have a charter school come in and sign a lease, it makes it all the more difficult,” he said.
The lease includes a termination clause that would allow the centers to stay if they could afford the rent. That looked increasingly unlikely, however, with Bloomberg holding firm to his budget cuts. (more…)
April 26, 2011
Lawyers for a charter school network are asking the State Supreme Court to dimiss a co-location lawsuit filed by parents on the Upper West Side.
The parents’ lawsuit seeks to block Success Academy network from opening a charter school in the Brandeis Educational Campus, which is currently home to five public high schools. It accuses the city’s Department of Education of using inaccurate enrollment numbers to make the case that the building has enough space for a sixth school. Responding to the lawsuit today, lawyers for the charter school said that the suit should be dismissed. City attorneys said they plan to file a similar response.
“We will be filing the papers with the court shortly and we oppose the relief sought by the plaintiffs,” said city attorney Thomas Crane.
In their response to the parents’ suit, Success Academy lawyers said that the parents’ arguments “nitpick to an absurd degree” and “engage in unseemly fearmongering.” They said that what’s driving the Upper West Side parents’ lawsuit is anger that despite massive opposition, the city’s school board voted to give the charter school space in Brandeis. (more…)
April 25, 2011
Do mom-and-pop charter schools get a raw deal when it comes to finding rent-free public space in New York City?
For many charter schools, the fight for space in public schools is a bruising one. In a column in the Sunday Times, writer Michael Winerip suggests that it’s that much worse for start-up charter schools that aren’t tied to charter networks or wealthy backers. The latter type, he argues, are able to open dozens of charter schools in public space all over the city. Meanwhile, a mom-and-pop charter school in Queens has to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a privately-owned building when the city doesn’t give it space.
Is it a universal truth that the public school real estate hunt discriminates against start-ups? It’s not clear. The charter school Winerip mentions, Growing Up Green Charter, is one of only nine charter schools in all of Queens. Almost all of them are independent charter schools started by teachers or religious groups and most of them are in private space.
Home to some of the best traditional public schools in the city, Queens also has some of the most overcrowded schools, leaving little room for charter schools of any kind to squeeze in. Would the city’s charter school office find space for an Astoria branch of the Success Academy if CEO Eva Moskowitz asked? We don’t know yet.
What is known is that almost all of the barriers to entry are higher for mom-and-pop schools than they are for charters that are part of networks. (more…)