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Parents at University Neighborhood High School Fight Charter Co-Location Plan

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University Neighborhood High School, 1 Monroe St.
University Neighborhood High School, 1 Monroe St.

Lower East Side parents are mobilizing to stop a charter school from co-locating in a century-old building housing University Neighborhood High School.

The Department of Education is planning to move the City Charter School of the Arts (a middle school) into the building at 200 Monroe St. The charter, created last year, is losing its lease at 25 Pine St., where it shares space with a private school. If the city approves the co-location proposal, a public hearing will be held April 5 at University Neighborhood High School.

The parent association at UNHS has started an online petition. It reads, in part:

NYC Charter School of the Arts (City School of the Arts) Middle School proposes to relocate its District 2 school to District 1, identifying UNHS as its target location. This co-location would serve to add roughly 250 students (not including teachers and administration) to our, already, over utilized spaces, effective September 2017. We, the undersigned, adamantly oppose the co-location at UNHS… Even with limited resources and lack of facilities, our students (90% of whom are Title I) are excelling due to dedicated administrators and teachers as well as supportive parents and guardians. It would be a travesty to further fleece this population in order to accommodate this charter school. Therefore, we urge you to cease and desist from co-locating City School of the Arts at UNHS.

In the petition, parents point out that the facility (which was not built to accommodate high school students) is seriously overburdened. The cafeteria, for example, only seats 150, forcing some students to eat lunch as early as 10:40 a.m. They are making many of the same arguments parents made in 2013, the last time UNHS beat back a co-location plan. Right now 386 students are enrolled in the school, with plans to add another 50 students next year.

As for the charter school, it’s founding principal, Jamie Davidson, spoke with DNAinfo, saying the Lower East Side option isn’t an ideal one.

While we will continue to pursue all available private options, we felt compelled to submit a request for public space — it would be irresponsible not to… Our original request was made for a [School District 2] space, but because there was nothing available, the University Neighborhood High School building was introduced. It’s a shame folks are taking this pursuit as an affront. Our number one priority is always our kids, and depriving them of a space to learn is simply not an option.

The charter school is expected to submit its co-location proposal to the DOE today.

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