LIMIT CHARTER SCHOOL CO-SITING IN TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Feel free to sign on and pass along as well – have people add their name and school and office if any, and send back to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters at email@example.com
To Commissioner Mills and the Board of Regents:
We, the undersigned NYC parents, parent leaders, and members of Community Education Councils would like to bring to your attention a growing problem: the increased numbers of charter schools that are being placed in our existing school buildings.
1- Community Education Councils and other stakeholder groups have no real input into the question as to whether charter schools are needed in our communities, or where a new charter school should be sited. When the NYC Dept. of Education holds the initial public hearing as to the granting of a charter, no specific location is identified for that school, making it difficult if not impossible to provide meaningful comment no less predict what the impact of this school may have on the existing public schools in the area.
2- When a site is subsequently chosen by DOE, a hearing is then required by the state to be held in the public school in which the charter school is to be located. Yet too often this hearing is meaningless, since DOE ignores the public concern as to whether the charter school's placement may have negative effects on the services, programs, and level of overcrowding at the school forced to share its space. Repeatedly, the DOE ignores the will of the community and goes ahead and places the charter school in the building despite overwhelming public opposition. Furthermore, there is no transparency or public input as to how the two schools will divide space within the building, nor any agreement about how to allocate the space going forward.
3- Quite often DOE reassures the members of the CEC and/or the parents at a particular public school that the proposed location of the charter school will be only a temporary incubation, for no more than one or two years, and that before it reaches its full enrollment, it will be moved. And yet in many if not most instances, the charter school has not been relocated as originally promised, and instead, continues to grow in size, with worsening overcrowding in the pre-existing school – leading in some cases to overcrowding rates of 170% or more.
4- As a result, we have seen instances where special education services have to be given in hallways, valuable cluster rooms have been lost, and class sizes have risen to damaging levels at the pre-existing public school. Meanwhile, the charter school is allowed to cap enrollment and class size at lower levels than the traditional public school– leading to increased inequities across the system, and sometimes within the very same building.
5- Each new charter school eats up precious classroom space with new administrative offices and cluster spaces; rooms which could be instead used to lower class size. The increased numbers of charter schools is making it increasingly difficult for our traditional public schools to keep class sizes small, and/or reduce class sizes to appropriate levels across the city, as now required by the state.
6- Community Education Councils, advocates and parents also require more transparency when it comes to the charter schools in their districts, and unfettered access to their applications, enrollments, proposed revisions, financial statements, and whatever other information is necessary to be able to review their status. All these documents should be posted online in a timely fashion so that parents and advocates are able to provide comment in an informed manner. Instead, we are often required to file lengthy and expensive FOILs, when this information should be made public and accessible to all.
We urge you to take our concerns seriously, and refrain from approving any new charter schools in NYC unless a specific site is designated along with its application; and in the process, take into account the overriding need for our existing public schools to provide smaller classes and all the other essential educational services and programs necessary for a quality education. When any charter school application, renewal or revision is considered, the state should ensure that all requisite information about the matter under consideration is publicly available to the local CEC as well as any other parents or advocates, and that a specific site for that school be identified along with its application.
Then, before you make any decision as to the matter under consideration, public comment should be directly solicited from the local CEC as well as other parents in the district, and especially those parents whose children attend the school slated to share its building with the charter school, to hear from them what its likely impact will be on their children's educational opportunities, as well as the district's students as a whole. We would like to meet you in New York City to discuss these critical issues further and look forward to your response.
Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters
John Englert, President, Citywide Council on Special Education
David Grinage, President, Community Education Council District 23
Jeannie Tsavaris-Basini, President, Community Education Council District 30
Jennifer Stringfellow, President, Community Education Council District 15
Lisa Donlan, President, Community Education Council District 1
Andrew Baumann, President, Community Education Council District 27
Teresa Arboleda, 1st Vice President, Community Education Council District 3
Jim Devor, 1st Vice President of Community Education Council District 15.
Morton Schuster, 2nd Vice President, Community Education Council District 3
Olaiya Deen, Member, Community Education Council District 3
Lyn Johnson, 2nd Vice-President, Community Education Council District 16
*Lavinia Galatis, Vice President, Community Education Council District 30
Jennifer Freeman, Secretary, Community Education Council District 3
Nadia Hyppolite, member, Community Education Council District 18*
Mary Silver, member, Community Education Council District 2*
Emily Horowitz, member, Community Education Council District 6
C. R. Phillip, Sr., member, Community Education Council District 18
David C. Bloomfield, Manhattan Member, Citywide Council on High Schools
Lailing Yu, member Community Education Council District 15
Michael Markowitz, member, Community Education Council District 2
*Josh Karan, member, Community Education Council District 6
Marie Pollicino, member, Community Education Council District 26
Jodi Seki, member, Community Education Council District 2
*Laurie Posimato & Geri Chadick, PTA co-Presidents of PS 116, District 2
Ursula Koffer & Marie Jose O'Keefe, Partnership to End Overcrowding
Emily Brown, parent, PS15 (Red Hook) and Charter-Free-PS15 blogger Charter-Free-PS15