By Ben Fractenberg
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott voiced his support for a controversial plan to have charter schools share locations with public schools during a visit to a Washington Heights school on Monday night, NY1 reported.
Walcott promoted the "co-location" plans during a meeting at P.S. 115 at 586 West 177th Street — which is set to house the K-3 charter school classes of the charter school program KIPP S.T.A.R.
A state Supreme Court judge permitted the city to move forward with its plans to place 15 charter schools inside existing public schools. But the judge stopped short of making a permanent decision about the city's plan, which is being challenged in lawsuit filed by the teacher's union.
"We want to give parents the ability to have choice and to choose based on their interests and the success of a school, whether it's a charter school or a non-charter school," Walcott told NY1.
Some parents, advocates and teachers unions have staunchly opposed the co-locations, which they say could lead to over-crowing and an unequal distribution of resources. Opponents of the plan say the charter schools could siphon hundreds of seats away from the other schools in the building.
Other controversial co-locations include the Upper West Success Academy charter school moving into the Brandeis Educational Campus building, which already holds five high schools.
Some elected officials have urged parents to fight back against co-location plans, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Others see the co-located charter schools as a possible boon, as long as the public schools are not hurt in the process.
“As parents and as a community, we have to be open to all possibilities, but my position is that charter schools are just one possibility,” said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district includes Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill. “Parents need to have choices, and we have to make sure that we don't make charter schools the only choice.”