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Uptown Charter School Denied Co-Location in Crowded District, DOE Says

By Lindsay Armstrong | September 11, 2014 3:29pm
 DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña promised many "good will" changes to parents and teachers during a visit to Washington Heights. The DOE recently denied a charter co-location in the district.
DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña promised many "good will" changes to parents and teachers during a visit to Washington Heights. The DOE recently denied a charter co-location in the district.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

MANHATTAN — A Sugar Hill-based charter school that is looking to expand was denied public school space in a crowded uptown school district, after new state rules were unveiled saying the city must find rooms for charters in public buildings or be forced to pay their rent.

Global Community Charter School, a K-8 charter, currently operates in a private space on 145th Street near Convent Avenue and was seeking to expand by moving into public school space in District 6.

According to the Department of Education, there was no appropriate space in a DOE-owned building in the district to co-locate the school.

Global Community offers a project-based curriculum and caters to students from different language backgrounds. School officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DOE did grant co-locations for four new or expanding charter schools in other districts: Bronx Charter School for Better Learning II in Edenwald, Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School in Crown Heights and Success Academy’s Bedford-Stuyvesant and Morrisania locations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in April that the city is obligated to find space for charter schools in public facilities, or it will be forced to cover rent for the schools in private space.

However, the denial of space does not guarantee that the school will receive public funds for rent, a spokesman for the mayor said.

"It's not an automatic trigger," the spokesman said. "An appeals process determines whether or not they will receive funding."

The school can appeal to the state education commissioner or state Supreme Court. If it does, it will mark the first time a school has undergone the appeals process since the governor's announcement.

There are 13 overcrowded elementary and middle school buildings in District 6, according to a 2014 analysis by the nonprofit Class Size Matters. The analysis compared DOE class size data from the 2013-14 school year with class size targets created by Contracts for Excellence, a state program that provides additional aid to low-performing school districts. In addition, there are 19 trailer classrooms in District 6, split between elementary and middle schools.

The analysis found that the district is in need of more than 900 extra public school seats to meet the class size targets.

During his campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised to revamp the co-location process and make charter schools pay rent for using public school space. He denied three co-locations for charter maven Eva Moskowitz's Success Academies in February of this year before Cuomo stepped in to support charter schools through the state budget.

The city does maintain control over determining where and when co-locations are appropriate. The DOE, under Chancellor Carmen Fariña, has put a new process in place to help manage co-locations, including DOE walkthroughs at proposed co-location sites and additional public meetings related to new co-locations, a DOE statement said.

"It's our goal to invest in all our public schools to make sure parents have great options for their children, regardless of what neighborhood they live in,” Fariña said in the statement. “It doesn't matter whether a child attends a traditional public school or a charter — we want every child to get the education they need to succeed and are committed to complying with the space law.”