It’s official! A Red Hook public elementary school will share its building next fall with a new charter school, despite protests from some parents and teachers who did not want to give an inch, let alone a few classrooms.
The PAVE Academy will begin next year with 88 students enrolled in kindergarten and first grade in a handful of classrooms and administrative offices inside PS 15 on Sullivan Street, which is at 54 percent capacity according to the Department of Education.
The announcement that PS 15 — also known as the Daly School for its former principal Patrick Daly who was slain in a gang-related shooting 15 years ago — would share space with the charter school ignited a firestorm of opposition from parents and educators in February.
But a series of a meetings in the spring with PAVE officials defused some of the tension and even won over some parents, who have entered their children in the new academy, which will eventually cover K–8.
“If my daughter goes to a charter school, she’s going to sprout like a pretty flower,” said Sonae Ketter, who just enrolled her daughter at PAVE, which stands for Perseverance, Achievement, Vibrance and Excellent character.
Some critics remain angry, fearing that the loss of six to eight rooms will crowd the public school.
“They shouldn’t be there. They’re going to take up a lot of room our kids need,” said Vickie LaSalle, the mother of a student at PS 15.
One teacher speculated that the resources of the charter school, which is part of the public school system, might breed jealousy.
“I don’t want our kids to feel slighted if [PAVE has] the latest and greatest,” said one teacher, requesting anonymity.
The PAVE Academy will have a maximum class size of 22 students with two teachers in every classroom, and longer school days and years. The school “will focus relentlessly on preparing children for college,” said PAVE’s founder and director Spencer Robertson. Robertson added that 75 percent of next year’s students are from the Red Hook ZIP code, 11231.
PS 15’s reputation is nothing to sneer at. The Department of Education gave the school an “A” on its report card, which mainly tracks student improvement over the previous year.
Though PAVE will have a private entrance to the school on Wolcott Street, it’s possible that the students and administration of the respective schools could butt heads over turf.
PAVE’s pupils will be easily identified by their school uniforms. Meanwhile, the principals must sort out issues of how to share the cafeteria, auditorium and playground and other common spaces.