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Success Academy Aims to Open First High School in Murray Hill

 Education officials and experts, charter school advocates, teachers' union representatives and parents took part in a public panel on colocating charter schools in Manhattan Community Board 5 Monday night, May 20, 2013.
Community Board 5 Hosts Forum on Charter Schools
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MIDTOWN — Success Academy is aiming to open its first high school next year in a Murray Hill building that currently houses four other schools, according to Department of Education documents.

The controversial charter school chain, which runs 14 elementary and middle schools in Manhattan, The Bronx and Brooklyn, has applied to replace the Department of Education’s Norman Thomas High School on East 33rd Street, which is being phased out in June 2014 after years of poor performance reviews.

The charter school would open in the fall of 2014.

If approved by the DOE's Panel for Education Policy next month, the Murray Hill Success branch would ultimately serve 676 to 864 students in grades 9 through 12, though it would start with just 63 to 81 students in grades 8 and 9 in the fall of 2014, according to documents.

The school would serve graduates of Success' existing Harlem schools.

The new Success high school would join three public schools still in the building, according to DOE documents: the Unity Center for Urban Technologies; the Manhattan Academy for Arts and Languages; and the Murray Hill Academy.

"We're excited about the possibility of being able to continue serving many of our Harlem students through high school," Success Academy spokeswoman Kerri Lyon said. "If approved, we would be excited to work with other schools in the building to create a campus of excellence for all of our students."

Two other Success charters in Manhattan, both elementary schools, were recently approved by the Panel for Education Policy. The schools, set to open this fall, will be housed in the High School of Graphic Communication Arts in Hell’s Kitchen and Washington Irving High School in Union Square.

“They are making a big push today for seats that will be needed in 2016, 2017, 2018,” said Layla Law-Gisiko, chairwoman of the Community Board 5’s Education, Housing and Human Services Committee.

CB5 hosted a public forum on charter schools Monday night, debating the effectiveness of charter schools and raising concerns about co-locating them with public schools.

“Colocations are hard, period,” said Shino Tanikawa, president of the District 2 Community Education Council. “If you are lucky enough to have two school leaders who like to work together, things can run smoothly.

"But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a lot of exchanges occur between the two schools, because there is so much the two leaders have to do" Tanikawa added. "Co-locations, in my mind, avoid them as much as it can.”