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UWS Has One of City's Highest Percentages of Charter School Students

By Emily Frost | July 28, 2015 9:33am
 Students (L to R, front row) Lamine Cisse, Marjery Pacheco, and Mia McNair sit quietly and wait for their teacher at Harlem Success Academy, a free, public elementary charter school on March 30, 2009 in District 3.
Students (L to R, front row) Lamine Cisse, Marjery Pacheco, and Mia McNair sit quietly and wait for their teacher at Harlem Success Academy, a free, public elementary charter school on March 30, 2009 in District 3.
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Chris Hondros/Getty Images

UPPER WEST SIDE — The neighborhood's school district had one of the highest number of charter schools and largest populations of charter students in the city last year, according to a report by the city's Independent Budget Office.

District 3, which runs from West 59th Street to West 122nd Street along the West Side, sat among the top third of all city school districts in terms of charter school representation, the report found. 

In the 2013-2014 school year, compared to the city's 31 other school districts, District 3 had nine charter schools, the fifth highest number of schools per district in the city. 

Charter school students made up 13.7 percent of all students in the district, the ninth highest percentage in the city, the report said. 

Additionally, with 3,604 charter students, District 3 had the eighth highest number of charter students in any district.

Five years ago, there were six charters in the district and charter school students represented just 8.7 percent of all students, a spokesman from the IBO said. 

The population of charter school students in the district has grown each year since then, at an average annual growth rate of 14.5 percent over the past five years, according to IBO's data. 

The district's nine charter schools are: Future Leaders Institute Charter School; Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School; Harlem Link Charter School; New York French American Charter School; Opportunity Charter School; Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem; Success Academy Charter School - Harlem 1; Success Academy Charter School - Harlem 4; and Success Academy Charter School - Upper West.

The Success Academy network also plans to open a new charter school in District 3 — a move that was authorized by the state in October — but the network has not yet said where it will be located. 

Four of the nine existing charter schools have their own buildings, while the other five share space with existing public schools.

Charter school co-locations have been a top concern among members of the local Community Education Council, which has said it's seen charter growth within public schools as a threat to the existing schools' opportunity to thrive. 

CEC 3 President Joe Fiordaliso described District 3 as "ground zero" for charter co-locations. 

"When charter schools are allowed to come in and take over a public school building and cherry-pick resources and the best rooms and the best spaces and leave the district community school with the scraps, that’s not consistent with my vision of how schools should co-exist," he told DNAinfo New York in an interview this spring. 

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