A controversial charter school will be allowed to use space inside a cramped Red Hook public school for at least three more years, thanks to a city vote on Tuesday.
Defying the wishes of parents at PS 15, the city’s Panel for Education Policy voted overwhelmingly to allow the K-second grade PAVE Academy to remain inside the Sullivan Street building.
Parents have sued the city to get the charter school out of their building, saying it is too small to accommodate the needs of all students. When it opened two years ago, PAVE was supposed to move out by this June.
My classroom is literally the next classroom that will be taken away,” said Patty Isoldi, a fifth grade teacher at PS 15.
Teachers say that space is so limited that “the occupational therapist has to share the library,” added PS 15 reading teacher Marie Sirotniak. “The other occupational therapist has to share the computer room.”
The city says there is more than enough room in the 73-percent capacity PS 15 building for both the public school’s 390 students and PAVE’s 138 kids. The building, in fact, could accommodate 198 more students, city officials said.
More concerning for parents is that the education panel decision, which keeps PAVE inside PS 15 through the 2012-13 school year, can be extended.
If PAVE doesn’t secure its own home by June 2013, the city “will re-evaluate the available space in the [PS 15] building to determine whether sufficient space exists for PAVE to remain,” the Department of Education said in a statement.
Parents of PAVE students insist that the charter school doesn’t want to take over PS 15’s building, which is between Richards and Van Brunt streets.
“The co-location of PAVE and PS 15 should be something that enriches both schools,” said Jeanette De Jesus, whose daughter is in the second grade at PAVE. “Our intention is not to take away from PS 15. Our intention is to have a space for us to give Red Hook kids a choice.”
But PAVE’s founder and executive director, Spencer Robertson, thinks that his school will leave PS 15 on schedule.
“We are in contract” to purchase a warehouse at 732 Henry St. off Mill Street, he told us.
The cost of the site and renovations are estimated at $39 million. The city is covering two-thirds of that cost and PAVE is raising the remainder through private donations, Robertson said.