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Success Academy Moving Into Far Rockaway School After City Approves It

By Katie Honan | November 25, 2015 5:23pm

FAR ROCKAWAY —The city approved the co-location of a Success Academy school inside a local middle school building that currently houses three schools, despite concerns from the community over space issues.

The Success Academy Charter School, run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, plans to open inside the building at 10-45 Nameoke St. for the 2016-2017 school year, the DOE said.

The charter will start with kindergarten and first grades, then add a grade each year until it hits the fourth grade.

They estimate they'll reach approximately 500-600 students by the 2019-2020 school year, and also expressed an interest in universal pre-k, according to the DOE. 

They'll share space in the building with M.S. 53 and Village Academy Middle School, as well as a special school for students serving long-term suspensions that exceed five days, officials said. 

The move — which will be the charter school group's third in Queens — has been criticized by parents and elected officials, who say the building is already overcrowded and isn't a good fit for younger students. 

Councilman Donovan Richards said in a statement that the Panel for Educational Policy ignored the community's concerns, which were shared throughout the process, most recently at a hearing on Nov. 17.

"While I am not opposed to welcoming charter schools, such as Success Academy, into the Rockaways, it is unfair to the students and educators who already deal with inadequate resources to have another school come into the building causing division within the hallways," he said in a statement after the deal was approved.

He added that charter schools should be in their own buildings, a thought shared by many who spoke at the Nov. 17 hearing, according to the DOE.

One person worried the new charter school wouldn't be able to serve the district's special education students. 

Another commenter asked where there was room in the building for Success Academy "if students were being taught in closets," according to a summary of the hearing.

According to the DOE, though, the building is under-utilized, with only 45 percent of the building currently in use.

The school's move into the building won't impact any classes or extracurricular activities, the DOE said, or M.S. 53's participation in the "School Renewal Program," which provides extra help to students and teachers.

The Success Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.