The Success Charter Network, led by former councilwoman and CEO Eva Moskowitz, recently announced its intentions to put a charter school in District 15's K293 building, located at 284 Baltic Street, which currently houses an elementary, middle and high school. Moskowitz also plans to put a charter school in Williamsburg, according to a statement.
Speakers at the event, which was held the day before a hearing with the Department of Education (DOE), called for an early childhood education program to use up extra space in the K293 building instead of a charter school dividing up classrooms already in use.
“I have already received 85 emails from people who live in this district,” Assemblywoman Joan Millman said at the conference, “parents of young children saying, 'don't support the charter school, support this early childhood center, it's what we need.'”
Although a statement from Success Charter Network said Success Academy-Cobble Hill would house students up to eighth grade, according to a DOE Building Utilization Plan, it would begin enrolling kindergarten and first grade students in the 2012-13 school year and expand annually up to fourth grade.
“I have never yet met a parent who has come to me to say what this district needs is a new K-to-fourth grade school,” Millman said.
“We have young families in this neighborhood who have been turned away from their local schools because we don't have the seats to accommodate the pre-K and kindergarten children,” she added.
The DOE's utilization plan also states that students in the charter school will share the building's one cafeteria, one gymnasium, and one auditorium, in addition to its other recreational areas.
Melinda Martinez, a Sunset Park resident who has four daughters attending school in the K293 building, said the charter school would result in overcrowding and poor allocation of resources.
“It is unacceptable that the DOE would allow Ms. Moskowitz to place one of her charter schools in our building, squeezing out our students and not considering what is best for our children here in District 15,” Martinez said. “What we do want is for that space to be used as an early childhood center, which is a necessity in this neighborhood.”
She said one of her daughters came to the School for International Studies, housed in the K293 building, as a special education student and is now an honors student.
Jeff Tripp, a teacher in the building, said the schools themselves came a long way in the last seven years, after they were placed on the DOE's under-registration list, and implementing a charter school could ruin its success.
“This would be a devastating move to cut off our classroom sizes almost to half of what we have, which would be completely unfair to our students, the parents of our students, the members of our community,” Tripp said. “Because it's not just the teachers, everybody is a part of this school.”
Although as of press time representatives from Success Charter Network couldn't be reached for comment, according to a statement more than 1,500 Cobble Hill residents signed a petition requesting a charter school.
“One look at all the strollers on Court Street and Bedford Street provides all the proof you need that both Cobble Hill and Williamsburg have gone through a true baby boom in recent years,” Moskowitz said in the statement. “While these neighborhoods do indeed have some good schools, they’re quickly filling up, and we’ve repeatedly heard from parents that they’re worried that their kids won’t have good school options.”
She said Success Academy-Cobble Hill and Williamsburg “will give parents another great public school option.”
View the PDF of the DOE Building Utilization Plan here:
DOE Building Utilization Plan