Charter School Plans for Astoria and LIC Fought by Education Leaders

By Jeanmarie Evelly on May 21, 2013 9:09am 

Slideshow
  Eva Moskowitz is   looking to open two Success Academies   in District 30, to the ire of community leaders.
CEC Against Success Academy's Plan to Open Locations in Queens District 30
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QUEENS — Eva Moskowitz is looking to open two of her Success Academies in Astoria and Long Island City — but neighborhood education leaders say they won't be rolling out the welcome mat for the controversial charter schools. 

The Community Education Council for District 30 is urging the SUNY Charter Institute to reject Moskowitz's application for the two proposed schools, saying it is worried the schools could worsen overcrowding in the district and draw resources away from existing public schools.

"We're an overcrowded district," said CEC co-president Jeffrey Guyton, who added that the main concern is co-location — that Success Academy would try to open in the same buildings as already-crowded existing schools.

The CEC passed a resolution against such a co-location at its last meeting.

"I've never heard of Success charters having their own building," he said. "It might be a different conversation if they had their own building, but they don't."

There are currently four charter schools in District 30, more than in any other Queens district, according to the Department of Education website.

"We're trying to keep a balance," CEC co-president Isaac Carmignani said. "Over-charterization — we're trying to avoid that."

"Charters can destabilize the district schools, particularly if there are too many in one location," Guyton agreed, saying charters often draw some of the best students away from public schools, which then suffer from the loss when they're evaluated by the DOE.

"It artificially lifts the test scores of the charter and artificially depresses the scores of the public schools that originally educated them," Guyton said.

Kerri Lyon, a spokeswoman for Success Academy Charter Schools, said the organization is filling a need in the district with their proposed schools. 

"This year, Success Academy received applications from families in all 32 New York City school districts, including District 30. We are trying to meet some of this enormous demand by opening schools in neighborhoods where parents are searching for better options," she said in a statement.

"As most Queens families know, the best schools in the borough are severely overcrowded and Success Academy is hoping to provide communities with another high-quality option."

Success Academy, founded in 2006 by Moskowitz, a former City Council member and college professor, has proposed opening six new locations citywide next year.

That news prompted some Queens parents to worry their child's school was being eyed as a possible charter location. Success Academy, however, has not publicly identified any specific buildings in Queens for future schools. 

The SUNY Charter Institute will make a decision on the charter proposals by October, according to its website. Schools that have their applications approved would open in September 2014. 

School co-locations would have to be approved by the Department of Education's Panel for Educational Policy, following a public hearing. The PEP will be voting next month on Success Academy's proposal to open a high school in Manhattan's Murray Hill. 

Guyton said the CEC will keep tabs on Success Academy's charter application and will be prepared to act should any specific proposals arise.

"We're obviously sending them a message with this resolution that we're watching them very closely," he said.

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