**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
January 24, 2011
Contact Simone Hawkins at (212) 788-7081
Statement from Council Member Letitia James regarding the Perpetual Replacement and Co-location of Traditional Public Schools with Charter Schools
“The recently leaked document from the Department of Education is causing reasonable uproar from parents and schools throughout New York City. The DOE’s outline to replace twenty-six schools this year - with mainly charter schools - proves that no neighborhood is safe from the unilateral decision making of Mayor Bloomberg and now, Chancellor Cathie Black.
The 26 schools recommended for closure due to poor performance has received little to no support from the DOE for restructuring or developmental purposes. P.S. 9 – Teunis G. Bergen/M.S. 571 and P.S. 316 – Elijah Stroud/M.S. 353 – Elijah Stroud Middle School – all in my district – are being threatened with a co-location of charter schools, in addition, to a proposed phase-out of M.S. 571. Also, P.S. 11 – Purvis J. Behan seems to be targeted by the DOE as a possible place for co-location due to their outdated underutilized space report. Although these decisions are subject to public hearings and a vote by the Panel for Educational Policy, these students and their families are losing confidence in the NYC public education system.
I propose that the DOE allow restructuring of the M.S. 571 administration as it is necessary to maintain middle school options in school district 13. P.S. 316 has grown tremendously over these years under the great leadership of Principal Elif Gure-Perez and M.S. 353 is now a part of the Middle School Choice process of which will attract at least 100 additional students for the 2011-2012 school year. Both schools maintain levels of proficiency and received an “A” grade on their DOE 2009-2010 progress reports. Allow these schools to blossom in a time when they are both exceeding expectations and gaining community support.
The charter revision and expansion for Community Roots Charter School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for example, is one well deserved. However, the placement of the school in a separate building with another traditional school will only invite further public scrutiny. It is undoubtedly irresponsible for the DOE to take it upon themselves to create such documents without the input of the adjoining communities.
Once a phase-out is fully implemented, the DOE will cease to allocate funds to the closing school and repurpose all remaining funds to the incoming school. The Fair Student Funding (FSF) covers basic instructional expenses and may be used to hire staff, purchase supplies and materials, or implement instructional programs. As a result of the phase-out, the total number of students enrolled at the closing school will naturally decline each year resulting in fewer teachers and supplies to meet the needs of the remaining student population. The DOE needs to understand that many of these existing schools are community staples. It is without argument that many need support to maintain desirable proficiency and retention rates. Nevertheless, replacing them and reallocating resources to new charter schools is NOT the solution.”