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Charter school space and the demand for data: our readers weigh in

Readers looking for an interesting and informed conversation about charter schools’ use of space, the renewal process and school transparency should head over to the comment thread discussing Girls Prep Charter School’s request for more school space in District 1 on the Lower East Side.

In addition to a lively debate between Norm Scott, a member of an opposition party within the UFT, and charter school backer Ken Hirsh (full disclosure: Hirsh is also a financial supporter of GothamSchools), the school’s executive director and others who are directly involved in the conversation around Girls Prep have hopped into the fray.

Lisa Donlan, president of District 1’s Community Education Council, argues that decisions on building space should be made with an eye towards serving students of many different demographic populations fairly:

How does the new governance law that requires local hearings and an impact statement (to be created by DoE) operate to take into account the kinds of students being served, how well they are being served and how best to use the limited space in public school buildings? What will be the value of “consulting” with the CEC or DLT in the case that the recommendations favored by the chancellor do not sway the elected local governing bodies? Keep your eye on cases like these to see how good the new governance laws are at providing transparency, accountability and community input and oversight to these thorny issues.

Miriam Lewis Raccah, the executive director and co-founder of Girls Prep, also weighs in:

I agree with Ms. Donlan about the need for transparent information about public schools. These rules should apply to both traditional and charter public schools. We are all serving the public, and spending public money. A high level of scrutiny should be welcomed, and we certainly welcome all questions at Girls Prep….

[O]ur parents feel very strongly about the need for a middle school for their girls. They were respectful and attentive. They are taxpayers, and have a right to space in a public school building. They also believe that they have the right to choose which public school teaches their children in that space.

Scott also has an interesting summary of the conversation on his blog. Please, keep the conversation going!

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