Another Hearing on Controversial ‘Success’ Charter School in W’burg

January 31, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Parents Would Rather See Support for Existing Schools

By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Because of a mistake in the city’s published EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), a second hearing must be held on the controversial co-location of a Success Academy Charter School inside an existing school building — J.H.S. 50 — in Williamsburg. The new hearing will take place on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. at J.H.S. 50, 183 South 3rd St.

“Co-location” means that two or more schools share the same building. Children in co-located schools must share resources like the library, art room, gymnasium and cafeteria, and often parents at the co-located schools fear that their children will lose necessary services.

In addition to J.H.S. 50, the building also houses another school, Academy for Young Writers, and hosts evening adult classes along with after-school programs.

The Department of Education (DOE) says there will be adequate room to house the new charter school because it plans to move the Academy for Young Writers to another school located in District 19, P.S. 422. That proposal has not yet been approved.

Many parents in the J.H.S. 50 neighborhood say they are against the plan because it doesn’t address what they see as the area’s educational needs: support and resources for the existing schools, including J.H.S 50 and the four elementary schools already in the immediate neighborhood.

J.H.S. 50 serves a high percentage of Special Ed, English Language Learners and low-income students.

Roughly fifty J.H.S. 50 supporters had signed up to speak at the first hearing, and collected more than 1,000 signatures to protest the co-location. The local community board also voted against the plan, saying that what the area needs is a middle school, not more elementary schools.

Ex-councilwoman Eva Moscowitz heads the Success Academy network. Four of the nine schools in the network have received A’s on their “school report cards;” the other Success Academy schools haven’t been operating long enough to receive grades.

While approved to serve grades kindergarten through fifth grade, the proposed site has only enough room to house kindergarten through fourth grade. J.H.S. 50 serves students in grades six through eight.

According to the DOE, J.H.S. 50’s building has the capacity to serve 1,232 students. Currently, the building serves 822 students. By 2015–2016 the building is projected to serve approximately 870–1,000 students enrolled in both J.H.S. 50 and Success Academy Williamsburg.

As in Williamsburg, a plan to co-locate a Success Academy Charter School inside a school in Cobble Hill — Global Studies High School — has faced enormous opposition from area parents.

Success Charter Network operates nine charter schools in New York City, and has been approved by its charter authorizer, the State University of New York (SUNY) Charter Schools Institute, to open three new schools in Brooklyn, including Success Academy Williamsburg, in the 2012-2013 school year.  

The Mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the proposal on March 1, 6 p.m., at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place.

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