A powerful charter school chain has successfully pressured the city into giving it space to set up new middle schools and fifth-grade classrooms within public-school buildings in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill, an executive with the company said.
Success Academy announced the city had reached a deal moments before the company was set to hold a protest on the steps of city hall on Thursday decrying what it claimed was the city’s cold-shoulder response to months of inquiries. A Success exec hailed what she said was a break in the standoff.
“We are feeling positive now that there will be a good outcome,” said Ann Powell, Success Academy’s senior managing director of public affairs.
Success is asking for space to open fifth-grade classrooms in fall of 2016 for about 80 kids in both Williamsburg and Cobble Hill. Company administrators say they applied for the expansion in July and worried that a lack of response from the city would mean that kids who have attended Success schools since kindergarten would be left with nowhere to go.
“Getting space and making it ready does not happen overnight,” Powell said. “We need as much time as we can get.”
The city said that it has no intention of shutting out the charter school company, even though many public-school parents resent that the programs take space and resources from their kids. The head of the education department said Success got no special treatment.
“As we have with all charter operators seeking space, we have been engaged in good-faith discussions to reach outcomes that are fair and work for all our kids,” chancellor Carmen Farina said. “We treat every proposal equally, and maintain the same priorities when reviewing every school’s request to ensure co-locations maximize space to provide an excellent education for all children.”
Both the company and the city declined to say where the new Success facilities will be placed.
Williamsburg’s JHS 50 was the site of a battle over Success Academy’s attempt to move in an elementary school, during which activists argued that the chain was only marketing to affluent white people. Success ultimately won that fight.