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Charter School Hearing Tonight; Elected Officials Oppose Lower East Side Plan

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Three schools share the MS 56 building at 220 Henry Street.

Tonight, parents and education advocates will converge on M.S. 56, where the SUNY Charter School Institute is holding a public hearing on the proposed expansion of Manhattan Charter School.  The school, already operating from a shared building on Attorney Street, wants to add several K-5 sections at 220 Henry Street, a building that already houses several other schools.

Parents with children at those schools – the Henry Street School for International Studies, Castle Middle School and University Neighborhood Middle School – say there’s no room for more students in their building.  In advance of the hearing, elected officials are out today with a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, opposing the decision.

The letter is signed by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez.  Ir reads, in part:

…Space in the complex is already at a premium. The Corlears Complex is already home to 3 middle schools, one high school, and the Space Education Center. We believe that this proposed co-location would come at the expense of students already in the buildings. In particular, all four schools rely heavily on open space for self-contained classes for special needs and English Language Learners (E.L.L) students. Further squeezing the schools’ available resources will have a disproportionately negative impact on these high needs students….  We are particularly concerned about the appropriateness of adding a new elementary school to this site. The principals already make great effort to keep the high school students from the middle school students, and adding an elementary school to this site will disrupt their careful efforts to separate spaces. In light of these concerns we strongly urge you to reconsider the proposal to site Manhattan Charter School II at M056. The consequences of the co-location would be severe for those schools already at this location.

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Tonight’s public hearing begins at 6 p.m. at M.S. 56, 220 Henry Street.


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