Charter Colocation At UNHS – Proposal In The Works By The DOE

Posted on Updated on

*  University Neighborhood High School is under siege again.
*  In 2013-2014 this school fought back a co-location with the community’s help.
*  Now, NYC Charter School of the Arts (City School of the Arts) Middle School seeks to relocate its D2 school in D1, and at UNHS.
*  This is the same City School of the Arts that was vigorously opposed by the community (‘14-’15 and ‘15-‘16).
*  SUNY CSI (Charter School Institute) approved them nonetheless.
*  City School of the Arts was made to promise that it would occupy private space though and not take space away from our existing Middle Schools. It made other promises too.
From the New York City Charter School of the Arts Proposal:

*  “New York City Charter School of the Arts’ commitment to securing a private facility is a direct response to the community’s feedback that DOE spaces in Lower Manhattan are overcrowded, and new spaces ought to be allocated for new seats. Families and community leaders in CSDs 1 and 2 have expressed the urgent need for more community-based middle school options, but without a great deal of support from families to open and co-locate in a DOE building, we dedicated time and resources towards identifying a private space that is feasible for a Fall 2016 opening. Our commitment to private space is rooted in three rationales:
1) The community wants to increase the number of physical seats in Public Schools downtown
2) Our unique program necessitates large community spaces such an auditorium, and specialized classrooms where artistic classes can take place. It would be difficult to run high-quality arts program in the small amount of time that a DOE location would allow for the use of shared auditorium or gym.
3) Private space would allow us to initiate lease immediately upon being chartered…” (PDF, p. 308)

*  “Given current constraints on space that LES families describe, in addition to the unique physical features we will need in order to faithfully execute our program, we do not anticipate the NYCDOE Division of School Facilities granting our [2016] request” for space in a public building, per the Facilities Access Process (PDF, p. 309-310).

*  City School of the Arts was leasing private space and now that its lease is up or was not renewed (we don’t know – we just got this information Monday), it has asked the Office of District Planning (ODP) to put it up, which the existing charter laws currently require. Why isn’t the school looking for private space again?
*  UNHS is physically a poor match for the school that City School of the Arts promised in its effort to get authorized. UNHS has no gym, small classrooms, only 4 student bathrooms, 1 science lab, an art studio with no sink, very narrow hallways, and steep staircases that are dangerous when overcrowded.
*  ODP has decided that a school where only 20% of the current school population lives in D1 should be sited in D1. The rest of the 100 students in the 6th grade (the only current grade) at City School of the Arts come from other districts.
*  This is the same ODP that came before the CEC on December 14th and reviewed space utilization in our schools. The ODP promised then no changes were imminent to our schools. Less than 3 months later…
*  This is also the same ODP that consolidated 2 of our Middle Schools (justified by low enrollment) just last year and promised that the consolidation was necessary and vital. Less than a year later…they want to put a Charter Middle School in a district that, according to ODP, has no demand for middle school seats.
*  District principals, teachers, parents, and community members know the harm a Charter middle school will do to our already besieged Middle School programs and 2,500 current Middle School students we have in the district.
*  The ODP and the Chancellor tout their community engagement and meetings and their approach to making significant changes to school utilization (known as the A-190 process). This is one of many claimed differences between this Administration and the prior. They similarly tout District, School, and CEC engagement. They tout Senior Leadership Walkthroughs, sufficient notice prior to PEP votes, etc., etc.
*  On Monday, the CEC, and by extension the District itself, was notified of this proposed change. Even the Principal at UNHS was only provided notice Monday.
*  To formally propose this plan, the ODP has to post an Educational Impact Statement (EIS) by March 6th so that it can be voted upon at the April 19th PEP meeting in order for City School of the Arts to open at UNHS next school year.
*  Yesterday we told the ODP that this co-location was wrong, wrong for UNHS, wrong for our middle schools, wrong for this community, and needs to be reconsidered.
*  We ask for your help and support in opposing this harmful plan.