space wars

City and union agree to fewer school colocations in September

Afraid of another lawsuit from the teachers union, city officials have decided to force fewer new schools to share space this year.

Originally, the Department of Education planned to begin closing 19 schools next September and open 16 schools — most of them brand new — in their buildings. But that plan was put on hold when the union successfully sued to stop the closures. With the court silent on whether new schools could still open, the city announced that it would proceed to open them.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said he was concerned that opening new schools while keeping the original schools in business would mean severe overcrowding in some buildings.

Now the two sides have reached an agreement that will change some of the planned colocations and, as part of the deal, the UFT has waived its right to sue over the colocations.

Under the agreement, five new schools that would have co-located with closing schools will open elsewhere, including one in the union’s office. The deal also gives the saved schools more support and possibly more staff, but not more money.

The Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language is going to open on the fifth floor of the union’s Lower Manhattan offices, which the city will rent.

The Academy for Health Careers, which was slated to open in the William H. Maxwell CTE High School, will now spend its first year in the Department of Education’s office in District 13 in Brooklyn. Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School will open in a new DOE building and two schools will open in leased space.

KAPPA International High School, which was supposed to move in with Christopher Columbus High School, will stay in its current building for another year. And one school will not open next year. P.S. 747, which would have co-located with P.S. 332, will now open in September 2011.

Nine schools that were marked for closure will still have new schools co-located with them next year.

Lennel George, the principal of Metropolitan Corporate Academy — one of the schools the city wanted to close — said the deal was good news.

“It would have been physically impossible to open another school here if we’re going to have an incoming class,” George said. “It’s a very very small building.”

MCA’s incoming class could be quite small — currently, there are only eight students on the rosters. The city expects that number to grow when students who change schools or move to the city are assigned to empty seats over the summer.

Folded into the city and union’s deal is an agreement to give the struggling 19 schools — the city has described them as “failing” — more support. This could include partnering with community based organizations, improving schools’ curricula, and bringing in excessed teachers to lower class sizes.

If schools choose to bring in excessed teachers, it could mean a strange game of musical chairs, as many of these schools are already losing teachers to budget cuts and lower enrollments.

Even with these additions, city officials have not gone back on plans to try and close the schools next year and no new funds will go to covering the new costs.

“We expect that school budgets will cover the costs of the additional supports,” said department spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. “If there are issues about funding at a particular school, we will work with the school to find a solution.”

It appears the city and union did not consult principals before coming to an agreement. Reached by phone today, one principal said she hadn’t heard about the deal and another said he’d only learned via email minutes before.

  • 16 schools (10 new district schools, 4 new charter schools, 1 existing district and 1 existing charter) were originally proposed to locate in buildings that housed schools slated for phase-out.
  • 9 of these 16 schools (8 new schools, 1 existing charter) are going into the buildings for which they were originally approved. Please note that the names in parentheses are the building names, not the names of the school organizations proposed for phase-out.
    • Murray Hill Academy into M620 (Norman Thomas)
    • Renaissance Innovation Charter High School into M099 (IS 99)
    • Harlem Success Academy II into M030 (PS30)
    • Democracy Prep 2 into M092 (PS92)
    • Bronx Bridges High School into X450 (Adlai E. Stevenson Educational Campus)
    • Dr. Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School into X158 (IS158)
    • Rockaway HS for Environmental Sustainability into Q410 (Beach Channel High School)
    • Hillside Arts & Letters Academy into Q470 (Jamaica High School)
    • High school for Community Leadership into Q470 (Jamaica High School)
  • Based on community feedback, space assessments and enrollment projections, 5 of these 16 schools (all new) are going into alternative locations instead of their originally approved sites.
    • Academy for Health Careers is opening in the District 13 Offices at 355 Park Avenue
    • Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School is opening in a new DOE building
    • Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language is going into leased space in District 2, pending the signing of a lease
    • Brooklyn High School for Young Men is going into space in upper Manhattan. There are two options- Transportable classroom units at the GW Campus or leased space at 4111 Broadway.
    • Cambria Heights Academy is going into leased space in District 29, pending the signing of a lease.
  • PS 747 will postpone opening for one year
  • KAPPA International High School is remaining on the Roosevelt Campus, its current location, for the 2010-2011 school year.

on the run

‘Sex and the City’ star and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon launches bid for N.Y. governor

Cynthia Nixon on Monday announced her long-anticipated run for New York governor.

Actress and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon announced Monday that she’s running for governor of New York, ending months of speculation and launching a campaign that will likely spotlight education.

Nixon, who starred as Miranda in the TV series “Sex and the City,” will face New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Nixon has been active in New York education circles for more than a decade. She served as a  longtime spokeswoman for the Alliance for Quality Education, a union-backed advocacy organization. Though Nixon will step down from that role, according to a campaign spokeswoman, education promises to be a centerpiece of her campaign.

In a campaign kickoff video posted to Twitter, Nixon calls herself “a proud public school graduate, and a prouder public school parent.” Nixon has three children.

“I was given chances I just don’t see for most of New York’s kids today,” she says.

Nixon’s advocacy began when her oldest child started school, which was around the same time the recession wreaked havoc on education budgets. She has slammed Gov. Cuomo for his spending on education during his two terms in office, and she has campaigned for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In 2008, she stepped into an emotional fight on the Upper West Side over a plan to deal with overcrowding and segregation that would have impacted her daughter’s school. In a video of brief remarks during a public meeting where the plan was discussed, Nixon is shouted down as she claims the proposal would lead to a “de facto segregated” school building.

Nixon faces steep competition in her first run for office. She is up against an incumbent governor who has amassed a $30 million war chest, according to the New York Times. If elected, she would be the first woman and the first openly gay governor in the state.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”