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Six More Success Academy Charter Schools Coming to Manhattan and Brooklyn

By Mary Johnson | June 27, 2012 8:31am
Juanita Faulkner has a daughter at the Talent Unlimited school in the Julia Richmond Education Complex on the Upper East Side. She encouraged Success Academy to
Juanita Faulkner has a daughter at the Talent Unlimited school in the Julia Richmond Education Complex on the Upper East Side. She encouraged Success Academy to "find your own digs," rather than co-locate.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

NEW YORK — The Success Academy charter school chain has the all-clear to open six new schools in New York City in the fall of 2013.

The State University of New York’s Charter Schools Committee, which reviews applications for charter schools, approved Success Academy’s application to open three new charter schools in Brooklyn and three in Manhattan, at a meeting in Midtown on Monday.

Of those headed for Manhattan, two are planned for District 2, which stretches from TriBeCa to the Upper East Side, and one is headed for District 4, which includes East Harlem.

In the resolution approving the applications, the committee stated that Success Academy “demonstrates the ability to operate each proposed school in an educationally and fiscally sound manner.”

The resolution also stated that new Success Academy schools were “likely to improve student learning and achievement.”

Each of the new Success Academy schools would serve some 689 students in grades kindergarten through to eighth grade.

The Department of Education has yet to propose specific sites for those schools, but Success Academy is looking to occupy space within existing public school buildings.

That potential for colocation has become particularly controversial in District 2, which has been plagued by overcrowding problems that have resulted in lunch times as early as 10:30 a.m., the loss of gifted and talented and pre-kindergarten programs, and kindergarten waitlists dozens of students long.

At a public forum in May, parents came out in droves to protest the possibility of sharing public school space with Success Academy charter schools, claiming their resources were already too stretched too thin.

State Sen. Liz Krueger recently penned a five-page letter to SUNY’s Charter Schools Institute, urging them to deny the application for new Success Academy charter schools in District 2.

“The co-location of two Success Academy charter schools in District 2 buildings would exacerbate the overcrowding problem facing this district and limit the future options for both the DOE and parents,” Krueger wrote.

“There is not a single building on the DOE’s list of ‘underutilized’ District 2 buildings that has the capacity to house a school with 600-670 students, the size of the proposed Success Academy charter schools.”

As part of the resolution passed on Monday, the charter schools committee included several comments from a letter written by New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who noted that Districts 2 and 4 in Manhattan may lack sufficient space for these additional charter schools.

“We will work with the applicant to consider split siting schools, modifying enrollment to tailor space availability, and discuss the possibility of other contiguous districts,” Walcott wrote.

The District 2 Community Education Council has also passed a resolution opposing all charter school colocations, and Eric Goldberg, a District 2 CEC member, said all that community backlash should have shown the charter schools committee that the proposal to add new Success Academy schools in District 2 lacks support.

“The opposition has been pretty unanimous and unified,” Goldberg said. “There’s been almost no community support.”

Kerri Lyon, a spokesperson for Success Academy, said that, despite the concerns from those in District 2, the charter school chain has already seen sincere and substantial interest from many District 2 parents.

For the fall of 2012, more than 100 parents from District 2 applied to the Success Academy location on the Upper West Side in District 3, Lyon explained.

“That’s more than enough to fill even a kindergarten class,” Lyon said. “And that really sent a signal to us that there are many parents in this district … who feel like they don’t have a good public school option for their kids right now.”

“Parents clearly see this as an option they want to learn more about for their kids,” she added. “I think a lot of families will be really excited about it.”

On Monday, the charter schools committee also approved an increase in fees that Success Academy can receive from the state, from $1,350 to $2,000 per pupil.