Shubert Jacobs, principal of the Bronx Charter School for Better Learning, spoke at a press conference today on the steps of City Hall to announce the number of students who applied to — and were turned away by — city charter schools this year.
Students who were turned away from city charter schools this year could fill some of the city's grandest landmarks, according to the New York City Charter School Center's final tally of charter school applications.
According to the center, more than 69,000 students applied for 18,600 seats at the city's soon-to-be 183 charter schools for next year. After filling their seats in lotteries last month, the schools had to turn away more than 50,000 students, the center said today, noting that this year's wait lists contain more students than Yankees Stadium or the Great Lawn in Central Park could hold.
With weeks to go before the deadline to apply to city charter schools, early numbers suggest that two controversial new schools are finding some takers — but mostly not from the neighborhoods where they are set to open.
Cobble Hill Success Academy and Williamsburg Success Academy, the newest additions to Eva Moskowitz's Success Charter Network, have each received hundreds of applications already, according to the network. Cobble Hill has gotten nearly a thousand applications for its kindergarten and first grade, while the Williamsburg school has garnered nearly 700.
But despite vigorous recruitment efforts, most of those applications are from outside the schools' districts. Just 260 of Cobble Hill's applicants come from District 15, and fewer than 200 applicants have signed on from District 14.
Applications are due April 1, giving the schools nearly three weeks to find takers. But they do not appear to be on track to meet the numbers posted last year by Upper West Success, which opened amid protest. That school received 700 applications from residents of District 3 yet still opened under capacity this fall.
Enrollment numbers are high stakes for new charter schools, which must prove local demand in order to win the right to open. The Success Network collected 4,100 signatures from people in District 15 who said they thought a new charter school was needed there. If too few local students enroll, it could damage the schools' credibility and undermine them if they try to open additional schools elsewhere, as the Success network plans to.