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Parents Mobilize to Fight Proposed Girls Prep Expansion Plan

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Yesterday, we mentioned tonight's District 1 Community Education Council meeting, in which the future of the Girls Prep Charter School will be debated. Now Gotham Schools has a good overview of the controversy – and details on a campaign by parents to protest the school's expansion plans.

The charter school currently shares a building with P.S. 188 and
P.S. 94, a school serving disabled students, and cannot expand further
in the space it occupies there. DOE officials have three ideas for how to accommodate the new middle
school, which they plan to present at tomorrow evening’s District 1
Community Education Council meeting. In one scenario, P.S. 94 would move out of the district, allowing
Girls Prep to expand in its current location. To compensate for the
loss of P.S. 94, a new program for disabled students would open,
sharing space with PS. 184, the Shuang Wen school. Another suggestion would have the Girls Prep middle school open in a
building currently shared by three secondary schools: the School for
Global Leaders, the Marta Valle Secondary School and the Lower East
Side Preparatory High School. The School for Global Leaders would then
move into P.S. 20. This plan would also allow P.S. 94 to expand in the
building it shares with P.S. 188 and the Girls Prep elementary school. The third proposal would have the Girls Prep middle school share a
building with P.S. 20.  (The full memo from the Office of Portfolio
Planning outlining the three scenarios is below the jump.)

These proposed plans are not sitting well with some parents in the schools that could be impacted by the Girls Prep expansion:

Troy Robinson, a parent of three Shuang Wen students and a member of
the School Leadership Team, said that he first learned that his school
might be affected by the Girls Prep expansion at a DOE walk-through of
the school a week ago. During the walk-through, department officials
determined that Shuang Wen’s building currently has nine unused
classrooms, a number that Robinson does not dispute. But he said that any plan to move a new school into those classrooms
ignores the fact that Shuang Wen’s space needs are also expanding
rapidly… The president of P.S. 20’s parent association, Monica Harris, said
that her school also added a kindergarten class this year. She
predicted that the addition of another school to the building would
cost P.S. 20 resource rooms for their English Language Learners. Harris, who also serves in a variety of parent leadership roles
including the Chancellor’s Parental Advisory Council, emphasized that
she does not oppose charter schools. But she said that their spread in
District 1 and around the city was hurting district schools.

District 1 Education Council President Lisa Donlan has expressed a strong desire to focus on solutions to the space quandary, rather than engaging in a contentious debate about charter schools. Shuang Wen parents are preparing for a big show of force at tonight's meeting, and they've set up a web site to coordinate their efforts. 

The meeting takes place at 6pm, at P.S. 20, 166 Essex Street. Anyone wishing to speak should sign in at 530.

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