As the mayor tries to reset relations with the charter-school sector, he announced a working group Wednesday devoted to addressing the contentious issue of school space-sharing that will include the schools chancellor and the co-founder of a major charter school network.
Although the working group will deal strictly with school matters, it is being organized by City Hall, not the education department. That department has already announced several efforts to improve school co-locations.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s co-location group arrives after charter school supporters fiercely attacked his decision to block a prominent charter school from moving into a public building. (He also allowed many other co-locations involving charter schools to proceed.)
Besides schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Dave Levin, co-founder of the KIPP charter school network, the group will include Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, who is overseeing the mayor’s pre-kindergarten initiative.
The group will work with principals and parents at both charter and district schools to “foster positive outcomes in future co-locations,” according to the press release. It will also make recommendations around overcrowding and classroom trailers, which the city has vowed to remove.
“With a willingness to work with all stakeholders,” Fariña said in a statement, “we can set aside the heated rhetoric around space that has divided school communities for years and focus on solutions for our children.”
The education department has already announced its own slate of proposals to address school-space issues. Those include a working group to reevaluate the Blue Book, the city’s directory of available space in schools; “campus squads” that will be dispatched to buildings with co-located schools to help resolve disputes; school walkthroughs by top department officials when new co-locations are being considered; and additional public meetings before final co-location votes.