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Success Academy Charter Schools Get Record Number of Applications

By Mathew Katz | April 9, 2012 2:28pm
Upper West Success Academy has faced vocal opposition from some local parents.
Upper West Success Academy has faced vocal opposition from some local parents.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

MANHATTAN — The Success Academy's charter schools often spark controversy when opening in new neighborhoods, but school seats there are still highly coveted among many parents. 

The network, founded by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, received 10 times as many applications for the upcoming year as there were open seats for its 12 city schools.

The schools received a record 12,374 applications for 1,200 seats for the next school year — up 37 percent from 2011 — with more than 30 percent of those applications coming from English Language Learners, the organization's officials said.

Success Academy is currently making an aggressive push to open six new charter schools across the city by the fall of 2013. It hopes to establish those schools in existing underused public school buildings, raising the ire of parents who argue that the city's public schools are already too overcrowded.

"We are simply floored by the overwhelming demand we received this year and only wish we could keep up with it," Moskowitz said in a statement. 

"Those who say communities don’t want or need more options clearly aren't listening to their constituents, who are lining up by the tens of thousands for seats in high-quality schools."

Much of the growth came in Brooklyn, with 1,429 applications submitted for seats at a new Cobble Hill location and 1,167 for a new Williamsburg school, according to the organization.

The Success Academy on the Upper West Side, which opened last year after a flurry of lawsuits attempted to keep it out of the neighborhood, received 2,144 applications for 74 open seats — with 515 of those coming from students within the local school district.

Kerri Lyon, a spokeswoman for the network, said that 105 students applied from Manhattan's District 2 — covering Downtown, Chelsea, the West Village and the Upper East Side — where Success Academy hopes to open two new schools.

"If we had just applicants from District 2, there would be a kindergarten wait list," she said.

But parents in District 2 said their neighborhoods already have huge wait lists at several schools, and that if the charter schools move into existing buildings, they will exacerbate the problem in the future.

"If Success Academy is targeting district space, it will be to push into a building that's already overcrowded, in a zone that's already over-capacity," said Eric Goldberg, a member of the district's Community Education Council, at a recent vote against the charter's proposal for co-location within their schools.

Sucess Academy held a random admissions lottery for the seats, and parents will be notified of the results within the next week. Those who don't get in will be placed on a wait list with hundreds of other students.