Battles over charter schools are nothing new on the Lower East Side. In 2010, parents were divided over the siting of the Girls Prep Charter School. Just last year, an expansion proposal from Manhattan Charter School also stirred up controversy. Now a new battle is brewing. Tonight, Success Academy will go before CB3’s education committee to present its plan to open two new schools in Community District 1.
Community Board 3 has posted a letter from Success Academy’s controversial CEO, Eva Moskowitz, on its web site. It is not yet clear where the schools would be located. In the past, the Department of Education has allowed charters to utilize space in overcrowded traditional public schools, angering parents of existing students.
District 1’s Community Education Council is not at all pleased about the proposals. Council members were not advised about the charter school plans. Instead, they noticed an advertisement for the proposed schools on The Lo-Down. In a February email to local elected officials, CEC President Lisa Donlan asked for help in determining whether there’s really high demand for charters on the LES:
I would greatly appreciate your support in looking closely at the latest charter school to take space in D1, the recently replicated (Manhattan Charter School II) which opened in the M56 building in fall 2012. As you will recall, the original MCS , housed in PS 142 since 2005, serves NO English Language Learner (ELL) students. Yet PS 142 is made up of 12% ELLs, in a district that is 12% ELL, in a city where 14% of students are classified as ELLs. (Manhattan Charter School) claimed robust demand as evidenced by an unverified long waiting lists as well as superior academic achievement in a district they claimed did not offer any, to justify the additional charter and location. Despite initial claims to seek private space, this school in fact was revealed to have been designed to take space in existing high-needs schools, which was accomplished with the help of the (Department of Education). As an object lesson, and perhaps cautionary tale, on the effects of expanding charter chains, I am asking for your assistance in determining what impact, if any, the siting of an additional elementary school, and in particular a charter school, has had on the D1 school community…
Tonight’s meeting takes place at The Lee, 133 Pitt St., at 6:30 p.m.