A group of Mill Basin parents thinks “Success” could mean failure for their children’s school.
The School District 22 Parent Teacher Association is rallying local parents and the community at large ahead of an upcoming public hearing to oppose the city’s push to co-locate a Success Academy charter school with the Roy H. Mann middle school — but they have an uphill battle convincing a Panel for Education Policy that is stacked with mayoral appointees.
“We’re just trying to get people to be knowledgeable,” said Cynthia Prevete, vice president of the Parent Teacher Association. “Hopefully if they see the whole community is not for this, they’ll reconsider. It’s unusual, but it has happened.”
The Department of Education proposal outlines the co-location of the charter school serving elementary grades in the E. 68th Street middle school beginning in 2014 with a kindergarten class of between 120–180 students, and additional grades added until the 2017-2018 school year culminating in the inclusion of grades K–fourth grades and up to 450 students.
In addition, the Roy H. Mann middle school would see a gradual reduction in the amount students it may enroll starting in Sept. 2014, with an overall reduction of between 160–190 students by the 2017–2018 school year.
The enrollment reduction will likely lead to funding cuts, not only for Roy H. Mann, but for local elementary schools PS 203, 236, 251, and 312, which will likely lose students, if not real estate, to the charter school, according to Prevete, eventually resulting in a loss of teachers.
“Once you lose students, you lose funding, and when the funding goes, so do the teachers,” she said.
Assemblyman Alan Maisel, who worked as a teacher and assistant principal for 30 years before he entered politics, and who serves on the Education Committee in Albany, has signed on to support the community against the Department of Education’s co-location plans, and said he doesn’t see the sense in bringing an additional primary school into a community that already has several “excellent” elementary schools.
“The elementary schools are wonderful schools and they have been for 50 years,” the assemblyman said. “So, now you’re going to put in a charter that will compete with these good schools? There’s no sense in that.”
The fate of the proposal will ultimately be decided on Oct. 15 by the Panel for Education Policy — a panel where the majority is appointed by the mayor — a major proponent of charter schools — and can be replaced by the Bloomberg administration at any time.
The result is a panel that frequently votes politically, according to Maisel.
“If they rally and they fight, I don’t want to say they absolutely can’t win, but I haven’t seen this administration as one to give way to community pressure.”