A new charter school battle is brewing on the Lower East Side. The Department of Education is now out with a plan to move an expanded Manhattan Charter School into a building at 220 Henry Street that is already home to three other schools. Parents have already sounded off about the idea at a public meeting. Their protests are expected to grow louder in the weeks ahead.
Manhattan Charter has been operating for several years in a shared building on Attorney Street. Responding to high demand, administrators won approval for a second school in this neighborhood. Next fall, they intend to enroll up to 100 kindergarteners and first graders in the Henry Street building. Parents of students at the Henry Street School for International Studies, Castle Middle School and University Neighborhood Middle School say the building is already overloaded.
But the DOE, in its assessment, found the school only has 775 students right now compared to a maximum capacity of 1445 students. In the past, parents and the District 1 Community Education Council have argued that DOE number crunchers are way off in their evaluations of neighborhood school space needs.
There are several upcoming meetings to discuss the issue. Wednesday night District 1’s Community Education Council will take up the matter at its monthly “business meeting.” The public will have another chance to weigh in on the plan Wednesday, February 15th, during the CEC’s monthly “Calendar Meeting.” A formal public hearing is scheduled March 8, at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at 220 Henry Street. Finally, the DOE’s Panel For Education Policy will vote to approve Manhattan Charter’s proposed location in April.
The DOE’s various documents on the charter school expansion are available here.