The charter school slated to open at P.S. 15 should be moved to a nearby location, according to Red Hook residents.
Community activists and City Councilmember Sara González have asked the city Department of Education (DOE) to consider opening the PAVE Academy Charter School in the local PAL Miccio Center, which is owned by the city Housing Authority.
“We believe we found a viable alternative,” John McGettrick, co-chair of the Red Hook Civic Association, said at a public hearing at P.S. 15, located at 71 Sullivan Street.
The PAL Miccio Center has six classrooms and a cafeteria in its basement which could accommodate PAVE, McGettrick said.
“They are vacant and in good shape,” he said.
“If Miccio has the space why not use it?” said Valerie Hill, whose grandson attends P.S. 15.
DOE reps said the department is considering leasing the location but explained that because the city is entering a fiscal crisis, money may not be available to pay for the space.
Since there’s no extra cost for the DOE to house PAVE at P.S. 15, González warned that P.S. 15 could ultimately be the charter school’s new location.
“We’re looking for an alternative but there’s a possibility that the school will be here,” she said.
Aside from a group of parents wearing matching T-shirts supporting the PAVE Academy Charter School, the majority of the parents at the public hearing want P.S. 15 to remain as is.
The principal of P.S. 15 has also expressed concern about the prospect of sharing space with another school.
At a February meeting with parents, Principal Peggy Wyns-Madison said, “I may have a little bit of difficulty in maintaining small class size.”
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has acknowledged that P.S. 15’s teachers are “very concerned” about making room for the charter school.
But the DOE contends that P.S. 15 would be a good home for PAVE because P.S. 15 is underutilized.
John White, chief operating officer of the DOE’s Office of Portfolio Development, told parents at the public hearing that P.S. 15 was built to accommodate more than 760 students but will have just 400 children enrolled in September.
He noted that there are 45 classrooms in P.S. 15 of which the school would use 25 in the fall.
If PAVE opens at P.S. 15, the charter school would have 88 students in kindergarten and first grade and occupy four classrooms and one administrative room during its first year. The school would use an additional two classrooms its second year.
The plan is to relocate PAVE to a permanent location after two years but parents wondered if that could change.
“If they stay for longer than two years they’ll need more rooms and we’ll be unable to boost enrollment,” said Emily Brown, whose son attends P.S. 15.
White said PAVE intends to secure its own space but explained that the DOE cannot provide an exact date for when PAVE would leave P.S. 15 “because you simply never know what is going to change in a community.”
“When it is suitable for PAVE Academy to take space [in a private building],” he said, “they will do that.”