By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Supporters of charter schools are riding high these days, with recently enacted state laws on their side that are paving the way for more charters to open in New York City.
The New York Daily News reported on June 10 that Eva Moskowitz, the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, the city’s largest charter school group, plans to apply for state permits to open 14 new schools.
If the State University of New York grants the charters, the schools will open in 2015 and 2016. The opening of 14 new charter schools would constitute Success Academy’s most ambitious expansion since the organization was founded in 2006. There are currently 22 Success Charter Academy school in New York.
“Even with 14 more schools, we will not make a dent in the demand we are seeing,” Moskowitz told the Daily News on Tuesday.
Under a new set of laws created by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City is obligated to provide space for new charter schools in public school buildings or if that isn’t possible, to pay rent for them in other buildings.
But not everyone is happy that charter schools are growing and expanding.
Parents and teachers in School District 21 (Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), where a Success Academy is moving into Seth Low Intermediate School, and another charter, Coney Island Prep, is set to share space in Joseph Cavallaro Intermediate School, are continuing their fight against charter schools.
The sharing of space between a traditional public school and a charter school is known as a co-location.
On June 4, the Community Education Council (CEC) of School District 21 passed a resolution at its meeting calling on the State Senate to introduce legislation rescinding the provision requiring the New York City Department of Education to provide free space to charter schools, a move that CEC members said would restore local control of city schools.
The CEC resolution also calls on Cuomo to allow Mayor Bill de Blasio to oversee the usage of space in New York City public schools in accordance with the 2003 State Education Law establishing mayoral control of the city’s public school system.
The resolution is part of CEC 21’s overall campaign to fight co-locations. Working with parents, teachers, and with their colleagues in neighboring School District 20 (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst), CEC 21 has held protest rallies outside Seth Low and Cavallaro, mounted petition drives, and has reached out to elected officials in an effort to gain influential allies.
Co-locations are bad, according to CEC 21, because they result in overcrowded schools and a loss of services for the kids in the traditional classes.
“District 21 and community stakeholders have showed on numerous occasions dissatisfaction with charter schools taking over public schools’ space and preventing public schools’ students from getting the required and needed services and/or programs due to space limitations,” the resolution reads in part.
The resolution also contends that charter schools shouldn’t be given a free ride because they can afford to pay rent.
Charter schools “have been shown by the city’s Independent Budget Office to receive more public funding per pupil than public schools,” according to CEC 21, which also stated that “charter schools in New York City have spent over $5 million in fees to public relations and advertising firms in their campaign to demand public space” and “have resources and means to find their own facilities outside of the Department of Education’s building inventory.”