2/27/14

Co-Locations Draw Fire from Council Members

Responding to today's announcement by the deBlasio administration that, after review, it has approved 45 of 49 Bloomberg-era charter school co-location requests, City Council Members Vinnie Gentile, David Greenfield and Mark Treyger issued a joint press release expressing "extreme disappointment" in the Department of Education's decision.

The three councilmen have promised to team with stakeholders, including parents, school administrations, community organizations, CEC 20 and 21, and other local elected officials, to fight back against the "ill-advised" and "unfeasible" co-locations of Coney Island Prep at I.S. 281/Joseph B. Cavallaro and Success Academy at I.S. 96/Seth Low.

Co-locating Coney Island Prep within I.S. 281 goes against the facts presented to the DOE, Gentile said.  Joseph B. Cavallaro is "busting at the seams", he said, and although there is an "overwhelming" need for middle school seats, there is no demonstrated need for an elementary school there. I.S. 281 already hosts a co-located District 75 school, and Coney Island Prep is already co-located within St. Simon and Jude, where it has more than enough space, he said. Why, he asked, would the charter need to expand into a public school when it is already co-located in a nearby private school?

Saying his district does not want or need a co-located charter school at I.S 96/The Seth Low School, Council Member David Greenfield, vowed to band together with his colleagues to fight it "tooth and nail". It's an "open secret", he said, that this gratuitous co-location was approved by former Chancellor Dennis Walcott as a political favor to a powerful charter school operator -- based on a proposal that ignores student needs and the impact of co-location on this important school.

While he applauded the DOE's reversal of the John Dewey High School co-location, Council Member Mark Treyger said it "defied logic" that the DOE would approve the Cavallaro and Seth Low co-locations. The Cavallaro co-location is "not feasible", he said, because the facility is too small, and co-locating a charter there would put all of the students at risk.  Treyger faulted Success Academy for failing to attend a single public hearing on the Seth Low co-location and ignoring all of the stakeholders.  Co-location, he said, would reverse the "great strides" that Seth Low has made in recent years. Like Dewey High School, the DOE should scrap the Cavallaro and Seth Low co-locations, Treyger said.

Co-location describes a Dept. of Education policy of mandating that two or more schools to share a single facility.

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