Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thank goodness the Daily News has paid attention to this issue...

Charter eyes a fair share: PAVE may have to extend stay in PS 15 another year
Friday, June 12th 2009, 4:31 PM
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A Red Hook charter school that had agreed to limit its stay in a public school building to two years has kicked up more controversy by asking for additional time.
PAVE Academy, which currently shares space with Public School 15 on Sullivan St., may have to extend its stay beyond next year so that it will have enough time to complete construction on its new space, said charter school founder Spencer Robertson.
"We're close to acquiring a site and in the event that it's not ready for the 2010-2011 school year, we want to be prepared," Robertson said.
PS 15 parents had fought putting the charter there this fall, fearing it would hamper PS 15's ability to keep its class sizes small and jeopardize the A-rated school's success. Though class sizes did not increase then, the parents now fear they could this time.
"If they keep taking our space, our class sizes are going to get bigger and bigger," said PS 15 parent Vickie LaSalle, 35.
PAVE launched last fall with 88 students in kindergarten and first grades, taking up the space of four classrooms, a lab and two offices. And it will need at least two more to accommodate its incoming class in the fall, Robertson said.
The Education Department said last fall PS 15 was using only 54% of the building, and Robertson said overcrowding concerns had been "blown out of proportion."
PS 15 teachers said their school has already lost a science lab, a room used for drama and dance, and its special education office.
If the charter school stays beyond next year, PS 15 will likely lose rooms now used for individual tutoring and possibly its band room.
"Once they go beyond next year, we're not going to be okay," a PS 15 teacher said. "Between the budget cuts and them pushing us out of our own building, it's going to be impossible to continue the programming
that makes us successful."
Robertson said PAVE has narrowed its search to two sites, one of which needs extensive renovations and another that would be a new construction. Either way, "certainly there's a chance it's not done within a year," he said.
Education Department spokeswoman Melody Meyers said officials haven't yet made a decision and that it was too early to say whether PAVE would be allowed to bring in a new class, which would require taking more room.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2009/06/12/2009-06-12_charter_eyes_a_fair_share.html#ixzz0fiiMx77G

Public School 15 and PAVE Academy in Red Hook struggle sharing space
Sunday, September 27th 2009, 4:00 AM

Fevelo for News
'Whatever the charter asks for, we're forced to give,' says Sandra Serrano, mother of Hannah, who's in the fourth grade at Public School 15. The school shares its building with PAVE Academy.
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A simmering turf battle between a charter and a traditional public school sharing a Red Hook building is boiling over, with public school parents charging their kids are treated like second-class citizens.
Parents at Public School 15 say they're being squeezed out by PAVE Academy, which has asked to extend its stay in the Sullivan St. building despite promising to be out at the end of this year.
Deepening the rift are differences in the schools' styles and the challenges of operating apart, but under one roof.
PS 15 parents and teachers said their kids waste time traveling all the way around the school, forced to avoid hallways and a stairwell allocated to PAVE. Separate playground and mealtimes mean a constant scheduling shuffle.
Some parents say charter students are discouraged from even greeting PS 15 students and staff, creating an unfriendly atmosphere.
"They keep them away from these kids and act like they're diseased or something," said Maritza Delgado, the mother of a PS 15 third-grader. "It's like they're better than the kids who are already there."
PAVE founder Spencer Robertson denied that PAVE students are told not to speak to their PS 15 peers and said that both schools agreed on the division of space and schedules.
"We are separate schools that share the same building, and we run two entirely different programs," he said.
But the culture clash highlights the challenges of plunking a charter into established neighborhood schools - a growing practice that is sparking skirmishes in schools across the city.
Many PS 15 parents were angry that the school's band was forced to move its practice out of a specially built music room because it's sandwiched between two PAVE classrooms.
PAVE's freshly painted classrooms, shiny new tables and chairs and new electronic whiteboards do little to ease resentments.
"At PS 15, nothing is state-of-the-art," said PS 15's PTA Co-President Annette Mendez.
PAVE parents said the style of the charter - where kids wear uniforms, march silently in the halls, and chant slogans - is misunderstood and that their kids are the ones having to compromise, given limited meal and gym times.
"It's not our choice that we're using their space," said Mercedes Jackson, 26, a PAVE parent and Red Hook resident. "It's just where we need to be."
Robertson said he'd signed a contract for a permanent site in Red Hook and was "optimistic" that he'd be able to move in by the 2012-2013 school year.
Department of Education spokeswoman Melody Meyer said an extension might be granted based on "whether there's enough space for both schools to operate successfully beyond the original agreement."
An additional class next year at PAVE, which now has about 130 students, would make the school 74% full with both schools, DOE estimates show.
After losing a computer lab, a science lab and space for enrichment, tutoring and special education programs, PS 15 parents argue they can't afford to give up more.
"Whatever the charter asks for, we're forced to give," said Sandra Serrano, the mother of a PS 15 fourth-grader. "I'm not opposed to [the charter], I'm just opposed to it in the school."
Related Topics
• Brooklyn
• Red Hook
• Education
• Spencer Robertson
• PAVE Academy
• Elementary Education
• Elementary and High School Education
• Maritza Delgado
• Sandra Serrano
• Melody Meyer
• Mercedes Jackson
• U.S. Department of Education

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2009/09/27/2009-09-27_ps_15_and_pave_academy_in_red_hook_struggle_sharing_space.html#ixzz0fijpSP9d

PS 15 feeling squeezed as plan calls for charter to grow
Thursday, December 17th 2009, 4:00 AM
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Parents at a Red Hook public school are fuming over a city plan that would let a charter school stay and expand in the building they now share for another five years.
PAVE Academy, which moved in with Public School 15 on Sullivan St. in the fall of 2008, would get to stay at least until 2015 and add five more grades, according to a Department of Education plan.
The news fanned fears among PS 15 parents and teachers that their small, high-performing public school will get squeezed out.
"There's not going to be a PS 15," said Sandra Serrano, whose daughter is a fourth-grader there. "It's just going to be PAVE and PAVE should get their own building like they said."
Despite an initial promise to find its own space by 2010, PAVE officials requested an extension earlier this year, saying they wouldn't be able to secure a building in time.
The DOE plan said PAVE will stay "until the construction of PAVE's new facility is completed in 2014-2015."
PAVE founder Spencer Robertson said he had not asked for an extra five years, and had only requested to stay until PAVE's building is completed which he anticipates will be "in time for the 2012-2013 school year."
"Our timeline has not changed," Robertson said. "It's our intent and our expectation to be out...well in advance of the year indicated in that extension."
DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte said the proposal for a five-year extension was made "in the event that PAVE's private space isn't ready by 2013."
PS 15 parents and teachers said they've already lost a science lab and space for arts and special education services, and that sharing gym, cafeteria and auditorium space means a constant shuffle.
They also charge that with PAVE expected to add at least 205 students as it grows through the seventh grade, PS 15's enrollment will be forced to shrink.
PAVE parent association president Janina Pedroza said that while she thinks there's enough space for the schools to coexist for a few years, five would be too much.
"It's a lot going on in there, and it's not fair to either PS 15 or PAVE," Pedroza said.
Related Topics
• PS
• Education
• Spencer Robertson
• Red Hook
• Brooklyn (New York City)
• U.S. Department of Education
• Sandra Serrano
• Janina Pedroza
• Ann Forte

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2009/12/17/2009-12-17_ps_15_feeling_squeezed_as_plan_calls_for_charter_to_grow.html#ixzz0fikPv5Bv

Public School 15 in Brooklyn one of many struggling against charter schools
Wednesday, January 20th 2010, 4:00 AM

Smith for News
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has some parents and teachers from Public School 15 in a fury.
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Nothing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein can say will calm the furor and sense of betrayal parents and teachers at Public School 15 in Brooklyn have felt for the past few weeks.
"There is a deliberate attempt [by Klein] to undermine and dismantle a successful public school, and we're going to fight it," Lydia Bellahcene, a leader of the Parents Association and mother of three students at the Red Hook school, vowed Tuesday.
The target here is not a failed school. Even the bureaucrats at Tweed have given PS 15 an A rating for three straight years.
Yet, parents at the school find themselves locked in a neighborhood civil war instigated by the Department of Education. Their nemesis is PAVE Academy, a charter school that shares their building but keeps demanding more space.
The same conflict is being fought out in scores of New York City neighborhoods.
It is one of the main reasons Democratic lawmakers in Albany Tuesday rebuffed intense pressure from Klein, Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Paterson - even from the Obama White House - to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state.
The lawmakers did so even though they risked the state's losing hundreds of million of dollars in "Race to the Top" federal school aid.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) showed the most courage. He was prepared to lift the cap, but only if Klein and other school superintendents agreed to some checks and balances. Among those were new regulations requiring approval from public school parents before space in their school could be turned over to a charter.
Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson of Brooklyn tried to act with Silver but couldn't muster a majority in his closely divided and dysfunctional Senate.
So Silver and Sampson decided no bill is better than a bad one. So the cap on charters stays at 200 statewide.
The parents at PS 15 know the importance of having a real voice. A few years ago, Klein's aides announced they were temporarily installing the new PAVE Academy in their school. It was only for two years, Tweed told PS 15, until the charter could find its own building.
PAVE happens to be run by Spencer Robertson, the son of billionaire Julian Robertson. The father's foundation donated $10 million to various educational reform efforts Klein started.
"We were shocked at the arrogance we were met with when they [PAVE] arrived, as if this building was theirs," Bellahcene said. "They insisted on separate entrances, stairwells and even bathrooms for their students. They even discourage their children from talking to ours."
"I'm sorry they feel that way," PAVE director Robertson said Tuesday. "We believe firmly there is room for our two schools to be successful with co-location. We're working on that."
And he's banking on a lot more time.
A few months ago, the Department of Education suddenly reversed itself and announced plans for PAVE to stay at PS 15 for up to five more years - until Robertson erects a brand new building for his school.
Since PAVE only has kindergarten to second grade, that will mean adding new grades each year, which means more classrooms.
"They are forcing PS 15's enrollment to shrink," one teacher said. "There aren't enough rooms in the building for basic programming."
All the things that made Public School 15 a true jewel for the children of Red Hook are being torn apart, the parents say.
If this is what Klein calls a race to the top, someone save them from it, quick.
Related Topics
• Joel Klein
• PS
• Julian Robertson
• Brooklyn (New York City)
• Brooklyn
• Red Hook
• Education
• Local Politics
• Politics
• John Sampson
• U.S. Department of Education
• PAVE Academy

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/01/20/2010-01-20_paveing_way_over_bklyn_school.html#ixzz0fil2ul7I
Three charter schools expected to receive millions in city money, Education Dept. plan shows
Monday, February 15th 2010, 4:00 AM
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Three politically connected charter schools are expected to receive millions in city money for new buildings, an Education Department plan shows.
In the city's capital plan, two charter schools with ties to Mayor Bloomberg - Brooklyn's PAVE Academy and Harlem Promise Academy - are slated to receive a total of $72 million for new buildings, about a third of the city money available for charter construction.
Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Queens, which state Senate President Malcolm Smith helped found, will also receive funds, though an exact amount has not been settled on.
Critics say with limited resources for school construction, the city should build public schools where they're most needed - not where elected officials have pet schools.
"It pays to have friends," said Community Education Council 15 Co-President Jim Devor, criticizing the choice to spend public dollars on a new school for Red Hook, Brooklyn, which doesn't have an overcrowding problem.
"You have a neighborhood whose school facilities are underutilized. You gratuitously add a school building where none is needed."
The city's capital plan sets aside only up to $210 million for charter schools. Education officials said the schools must come up with at least a third of the money for their buildings, which will ultimately be owned by the city.
The opportunity to apply is available to all schools, but it can be a substantial challenge for charters.
Education Department officials denied that charter schools need political connections to get city funding, but said they do need established reputations that help them fund-raise enough to build a school, instead of moving into an existing one.
"You've got to have some chops," said Education Department Charter Schools Director Michael Duffy. "It's usually someone like Geoff Canada [president of Harlem Children's Zone] who can build."
Canada - who also runs Promise Academy - supported Bloomberg's push to renew mayoral control of the schools and the extension of term limits. His spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
PAVE Academy founder Spencer Robertson - whose billionaire father gave more than $10 million to the mayor's Fund for Public Schools - challenged his critics who attack him for keeping his charter school inside Public School 15.
"They criticize our building a new school in an 'underutilized' area.%A0 Yet they are the same people who cry out that our presence in PS 15 is causing severe overcrowding," said Robertson.
"This new building will be owned by the DOE - just like a public school building. The only difference is, PAVE will raise over $10 million for the project," he said.
Last month, the Daily News reported that Smith steered $100,000 in state funds to Peninsula Prep.
Federal prosecutors are now investigating Smith for channeling money to another Queens nonprofit he helped found.
Peninsula officials did not respond to a call for comment.
Related Topics
• Michael Bloomberg
• Education Issues
• Education
• Charter Schools
• Politics
• Local Politics
• Government and Politics
• Spencer Robertson
• PS
• Political Policy
• Domestic Policy
• Education Policy

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/02/15/2010-02-15_charterspolitical_tiesfunding.html#ixzz0filQCRLP

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