By Mary Frost
COBBLE HILL — On Monday, Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman joined parents, education leaders and elected officials to speak out against the Department of Education’s proposal to create a charter school in a building complex that already houses three existing schools at 284 Baltic St. She was joined by District 15 Community Education Council President Jim DeVor, City Councilman Steve Levin and other student advocates.
Millman and former Deputy Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina – who has deep roots in District 15 – have both called for a public early childhood center instead of another elementary school.
Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Charter Success Network, caused a stir in Cobble Hill after announcing that her organization wanted to “co-locate” a charter school within the building in District 15. She had originally received approval for a charter school in Districts 13 and 14. Under her plan, the “Success Academy Cobble Hill” would move to the building, which already houses the Brooklyn School for Global Studies, the School for International Studies and a special education program.
In October, parents from local public schools, who waved signs and shouted out questions, protested the school’s co-location at an information session held by Moskowitz. Many of the protesters said they feared that Success Academy Cobble Hill would disrupt existing programs and drain resources from their children.
“I’m not opposed to charters — I’m opposed to co-locating charter schools in public schools because of the inequities that result,” said Dorothy Barnhouse. “They take the library, the science classroom, the dance studio and the pull-out spaces for speech therapy and small group instruction.”
Mike Suchanek, whose child attends kindergarten at the West Side Success Academy, showed up at the October meeting to speak in favor of Success Academy. The school is a “great option for parents. I’m thrilled we had a choice,” he said.
Millman said she objected to the charter school proposal because it could impede the growth of the existing schools in the building. The Brooklyn School for Global Studies is undergoing a $2 million federal school improvement plan.
“The neighborhood elementary schools are high achieving and their pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes are overcrowded, with too many youngsters denied an opportunity for a quality pre-kindergarten and kindergarten experience,” she said. “And because the center would only serve children in two grades and would not expand, it would not threaten the growth of the existing schools.”
Success Academy Schedules Rally
The proposal was being considered at a public hearing on Tuesday, November 29, after this paper went to press. Many opponents of the charter school co-location were expected to attend the hearing.
Success Academy scheduled its own rally at the same time to show that the charter school has supporters within District 15. According to Success Academy, Success Academy Cobble Hill “would provide another great public school option to nearly 200 neighborhood children next year alone.”
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