Dear Mr. Nolan,
I am writing to you to express my opposition to the proposed plan to co-locate a charter school in 17K316 located at 50 Classon Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11238. I am a prospective parent of PS316, my zoned elementary school. After meeting the principal and touring the school in December, I was thrilled at the prospect of sending my daughter there next year. Since 2008, PS316 has clearly demonstrated positive change and growth measured by a variety of standards, including those of the NYC DOE, which awarded PS 316 an A for the past 2 years. Several independent public school review organizations have reviewed the school very positively.
While I am a firm believer that the NYC public school system can benefit greatly by including charter schools among the options available to children and parents, the co-location of a charter school should not sacrifice a successful program in a rapidly expanding public school. In the case of building K316, co-location will undermine the quality of one of the best public school choices in District 17 and decrease the learning opportunities and student achievement at all of the schools forced to share the building. Co-location will crowd out the innovative science, music, art and drama enrichment programs held in the school’s cluster rooms. These results run counter to the DOE’s own stated reasons for the establishment of charter schools.
Please don’t eviscerate this bright spot in District 17. Placing a charter school in building K316 will strip away the very things that have made this school such an extraordinary success in the past 3 years and one of very, very few good choices for District 17 parents. Co-location will take away vital – indeed critical - spaces needed for the schools to comply with state mandates, and the very things (art, music and science) that make prospective parents like me want to send their children to the their own neighborhood zoned school.
The neighborhood surrounding Elijah Stroud School is changing rapidly. There is a large network of prospective parents and a large number of children in the pipeline in the zone for PS316. PS316 has already exceeded its expected enrollment for this year by 20%. MS353 was only recently listed as a district wide middle school choice program, so it is likely to see a sharp uptick in enrollment also. The potential for continued rapid growth of PS316 and MS353 seems to carry little or no weight in the DOE calculations regarding utilization of space. At the very least the DOE should delay this proposal for 2 years and watch what happens with the enrollment of the schools currently housed in building K316. Please, let this successful school grow.
Additionally, I must question the methodology used to designate the building as underutilized by 300+ seats. The formula used to arrive at such a determination has been criticized by Class Size Matters for a host of reasons including it’s failure to align with the target class sizes set by the New York City’s class size reduction plan. In short the remedy for underutilization, when implemented, overcrowds our schools. This is certainly the case PS316 and MS 353 where the number of students the K316 building should serve is calculated to be far higher than it really is if your goal is to actually educate those students. Furthermore, the number of students enrolled in the school used by Portfolio Planning to make its determination of underutilization is significantly lower than the actual number currently enrolled. Therefore the 300+ seat vacancy needed to trigger this process is dubious at best. The designation is further flawed, as I have already noted, by the calculation of future enrollment without any regard for the reality on the ground in the neighborhood. PS316 and K353 will, without a doubt, experience an enrollment spike in the next 2-5 years.
I understand the scarcity of space problem that faces the New York City DOE, but “efficient” use of space is a false economy if it results in the deficient education of our children. A school such as PS316 that is succeeding so phenomenally in an underperforming school district will quickly fill to capacity and needs some space to grow. To co-locate another school at PS 316 will choke off its success, and prevent its growth. I cannot think of anything more counterproductive for District 17.
Please stop the co-location plan for 17K316. My sincere thanks for your consideration of this matter,