Back-to-back rallies set for this afternoon augur a contentious co-location hearing for the newest outpost in the Success Charter Network.
The creation of Cobble Hill Success Academy, which won approval earlier this year to open next fall in Brooklyn’s District 13, has sparked conflict in District 15, the location of the school’s proposed site. Advocates and critics of the city’s plan to co-locate the charter school with two secondary schools and a special education program will lay out their cases during tonight’s public hearing — and beforehand, in rallies set for outside the Baltic Street building.
The public hearing is the first of the year and ushers in a season of rancorous co-location hearings.
Some families have lamented crowding in high-performing local elementary schools and said they would appreciate new options. But others say they are worried that the new school would strain resources at the proposed site without effectively serving the high-needs populations it was originally intended to serve.
Cobble Hill Success’s promise to serve low-income, immigrant families in District 13 was a boon to its application, according to Pedro Noguera, an education professor who green-lighted the school’s original application as a member of the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute.
“We have tried to take the position recently that we can put charter schools where there is clearly a need for better schools for kids, so targeting the more disadvantaged communities. We have also seen the areas that are a saturation of charter schools, so we want to encourage them to open in areas that have a high need and aren’t being served,” said Noguera, who will be participating in an education debate this evening in the West Village. “A school in Cobble Hill clearly does not meet that criteria.”
At 5 p.m. parents from District 15 will hold a press conference outside of the Cobble Hill school, “to demand the City’s Department of Education award public space to Success Academy Cobble Hill,” according to a press release sent out by a communications firm that works with the Success Academy Charter Network.
The network’s CEO, Eva Moskowitz, has seemed to court controversy when seeking spacefor her schools. Co-location battles have followed her forays into schools in Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Upper West Side, and the network has in the past bused groups of parents from its schools, often wearing signature orange T-shirts, to co-location hearings.
At 5:30 p.m., opponents of the co-location are planning to rally in front of the school to renew calls for an alternative proposal: to open an early childhood center in the building instead of a charter school. Yesterday a vocal group of parents, state and union officials rallied at the building’s Baltic Street entrance in support of that proposal, arguing that the local elementary schools are turning away families who apply for preschool.
Organizers of the protest say they will argue that the charter school would not address crowding issues in Brownstone Brooklyn’s elementary schools because its lottery admissions would allow students from other parts of the city to apply, and it also would not address the demand for more preschool programs.
Community members and educators from the two secondary schools that currently share space in the four-story building, along with a District 75 special education program, have also said that an additional charter school could overcrowd the high schools’ shared facilities.