PAL kayos Red Hook charter school bid
By RACHEL MONAHAN DAILY NEWS WRITER
Monday, May 12th 2008, 4:00 AM
A bid by Red Hook public school parents to keep a charter school out of Public School 15 has apparently failed. Community leaders had sought a home for PAVE Academy at the PAL Miccio Center on W. Ninth St. rather than house it at PS 15 where parents had put up a fight. But PAL officials nixed the idea. "The needs of the charter school are far greater than the Police Athletic League can accommodate," Felix Urrutia, executive director of the respected citywide organization told the Daily News Friday. Though there are unused classrooms at the W. Ninth St. site during
the day, PAL officials need access to the space beginning at 2p.m., Urrutia
said. That was far too early for the charter school. "It just doesn't feel like it's going to work," said PAVE Academy founder Spencer Robertson, noting a decision for an alternative site would have to be made in the next week. Robertson had found the possibility of six classrooms offered at the PAL Miccio building "appealing," he said. But PAL officials had turned him down multiple times. PS 15 had scored an A on the city-issued progress reports - and parents and teachers were outraged over the choice to add another school to the building. Madeline Daly, widow of slain former Principal Patrick Daly for whom the school was named, spoke out against the change earlier this year. But DOE officials have noted there are far more classrooms than homeroom sections. PAL leases its space from the New York City Housing Authority, agency officials said, noting it would have to approve any use of the space. Early last week, Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Red Hook) contacted the agency, which owns the property, to work out a solution. "It's not the councilwoman's call to make," said Urrutia. "There are charter schools trying to set up all over the city. They're coming to PAL and other organizations. We would love to help, but at what expense to the
[PAL]?" Reached late Friday, Gonzalez still had hope. "At this point there are still conversations and nothing is confirmed," she said.
Despite the grim tone of this article, I still feel strongly that more can be done. We may have lost this round, but there's more that can be done. I happen to agree that siting the PAVE Academy at the PAL Miccio Center would hardly be advantageous to the Miccio Center; it's just transferring the problem from one potential site and dumping it on another. Even my son, who's only 8, commented that if PAVE took up residence at the Miccio Center, wouldn't that be just as bad as having it at PS15, and I have to agree with him - his instincts are right.
In an earlier post to this blog, another blogger pointed out that there are federal funds available now to help charter schools pay for private sites, taking the burden off the "regular" public schools. Why isn't PAVE applying for these funds and simultaneously continuing their search for alternate space? Perhaps they are, but that issue hasn't come up in any of the discussions I've heard about so far.
Why does the decision about PAVE's location need to be made within the week? I realize that they need to have their site set up in time to start classes in August, BUT there's still the rest of May, June and July to secure another location and do whatever renovations and work needs to be done.
Personally, I'm not ready to give up yet. I think something can be worked out that makes sense for everyone involved. I also feel that if we cave in on this, it sets a bad precedent for all the other public schools that are being faced with similar encroachments.