With the city deciding to move forward on most of the school co-locations approved late last year, as Mayor Bloomberg prepared to vacate City Hall, parents in southwest Brooklyn are not only disappointed but angry.
While the Department of Education under Mayor de Blasio wisely opted to back out of a planned co-location of a new high school inside Gravesend’s John Dewey High School, the DOE decided to move ahead with two others: the co-location of a charter school inside Seth Low Intermediate School in Bensonhurst and another inside Joseph B. Cavallaro Intermediate School in Bath Beach.
These are both fiercely opposed by parents, educators, students and the local Community Education Councils, all of whom contend that the co-locations would steal necessary space from students already attending the schools, and those who will be going to them in the near future.
While the city has said it only considers under-utilized schools for co-locations, area education advocates say that both Cavallaro and Seth Low are well utilized, and likely to become more crowded as students now in elementary school in both District 20 and District 21 move up to middle school.
Indeed, District 20 is one of the most crowded school districts in the city, so much so that the city built a host of new schools for it in the past decade, with more being planned, meaning that public school students in both District 20 and District 21 are likely to feel the squeeze should they have to share space with students from a charter school.
That strikes us as patently unfair. While some of the charter schools poised to open in September, 2014 may be worthy additions to the city’s educational offerings, their needs should not trump the needs of existing schools with existing students. And, indeed, when a charter school is put inside a public school, the process must involve the school communities at both educational institutions, and parents must also be involved.
The city must go back to the drawing board and come up with alternative arrangements for the charter schools planned for Seth Low and Cavallaro. The students who attend those schools deserve no less.