In spite of parents’ objections, a new charter school will definitely open in P.S. 15 this fall.
The city Department of Education made that announcement via a letter from John White, chief operating officer of the DOE’s Office of Portfolio Development.
Explaining the move, he wrote, “This decision was made on the basis of space availability, demand for the services of PAVE Academy, and other community feedback. Though opinions on this issue vary, no facts presented lead us to conclude that both schools will not be able to succeed in this arrangement.”
Parents of students at P.S. 15, which is located at 71 Sullivan Street, vehemently opposed the idea of sharing space with the PAVE Academy Charter School.
Paul Van Liudentol, who has a child at P.S. 15, said the DOE selected the school for PAVE “with total disregard for the community and the parents.”
“I’m very irritated at the Department of Education because I think that they completely did not listen to our side of everything that was said at the public hearing,” asserted Emily Brown, whose son attends P.S. 15.
At that public hearing at P.S. 15 earlier this month, “Not one person spoke in favor of that school,” said Jim Devor, first vice president of District 15’s Community Education Council (CEC), which advocates for schools in Park Slope, Sunset Park and Red Hook, which is where P.S. 15 is located. He noted that parents of children accepted to PAVE spoke in support of the school.
Under the arrangement, P.S. 15 will relinquish classrooms to PAVE, thereby raising concerns about P.S. 15 having to increase class size.
The principal of P.S. 15 has said, “I may have a little bit of difficulty in maintaining small class size.”
“P.S. 15 is doing incredibly well. They’ve gotten high scores on the report cards they give schools and part of the reason they’ve been able to do that is because they have low class sizes,” Brown said.
On the school’s to-do list is the creation of a dual language program but “once the PAVE Academy is there and they take four or five of our rooms away, how are we going to do that?” Brown said.
At the recent public hearing, White told parents that P.S. 15 is underutilized, which makes it able to accommodate PAVE. White said P.S. 15 was built to accommodate more than 760 students but will have just 400 children enrolled in September. He said there are 45 classrooms in P.S. 15 of which the school would use 25 in the fall.
PAVE will open with 88 students in kindergarten and first grade and occupy four classrooms and one administrative room during its first year. The school will need an additional two classrooms its second year.
The DOE plans to relocate PAVE to a permanent location after two years but, at the public hearing, White said 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.”
P.S. 15 parents aren’t taking the space-sharing arrangement lying down.
Brown said there’s been talk of protests outside of the DOE’s Manhattan headquarters. She’s even created a blog, http://charter-free-ps15.blogspot.com:80/, detailing the opposition to the plan.