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City finds private space for Success Academy schools whose co-locations it blocked

The city will provide private space for three Success Academy charter schools, City Hall announced Saturday, just two months after blocking those schools from moving into public buildings, which sparked a bruising backlash and eventually a state law reversing the city’s decision.

The schools will move into three former Catholic school buildings, which the city will renovate and lease on behalf of the charter schools, the announcement said. In return, Success Academy parents will halt legal actions they launched after the city canceled the co-locations, the city added.

“I’m heartened we’ve been able to put politics behind us and establish a positive working relationship,” Success CEO Eva Moskowitz said in a statement, where she also thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has offered strong support for Success. (Success backers have contributed generously to Cuomo’s reelection campaign.)

In his February decision, de Blasio left untouched the previous administration’s plans to let several Success schools move into public school buildings. But his administration blocked co-location plans involving three Success schools, which provoked outrage among charter school supporters. After a well-financed pro-charter lobbying campaign and political pressure by Cuomo, state lawmakers inserted new protections for charter schools into the recent budget deal and effectively voided the mayor’s co-location cancellations. The deal also said the city must now provide expanding charter schools with public-school space or funds for private space.

Meanwhile, co-locations critics were furious that de Blasio did not cancel more of the space-sharing plans, which the Bloomberg administration pushed through at the very end of its tenure. At a teachers union event on Saturday, Public Advocate Letitia James voiced that frustration, saying that concern for charter school students caught up in the co-location debate seemed to have eclipsed concern for students in district schools who would have to share building space.

“Where is the voice for those children?” James asked, adding that she continues to move forward with a lawsuit challenging the planned co-locations.

Here’s the city’s full announcement:

The city announced today it had finalized agreements for space for three charter schools that will enable them to move forward for the coming school year. Alternative space for Harlem Success Academy 4, Success Academy Jamaica, and Success Academy City Hall was secured in three former Catholic school buildings that meet the necessary requirements and standards for occupancy by students.

The new locations replace co-location proposals previously halted by the Department of Education due to clear and consistent criteria established to ensure high-quality learning opportunities for all students. The resolution settles legal actions related to those co-locations. Under the agreement, the city will provide for leasing and renovations to ensure a high-quality school environment for students. Each site has program space commensurate with that of the original co-location proposals.

“It doesn’t matter whether a child attends a district school, a charter school, or a parochial school―these are all our kids. We pledged to parents we would have a safe, high-quality environment for these students, and this outcome delivers on that promise. I am grateful to Deputy Mayor Buery and Schools Chancellor Fariña for all their work reaching this solution,” said First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris.

The three schools will be sited at the following locations for the coming school year:

Annunciation School, 461 West 131st Street, Manhattan
St. Pius X School, 147-65 249th Street, Rosedale, Queens
Mother Cabrini High School, 701 Fort Washington Avenue, Manhattan

The administration will now move forward on final lease negotiations at each site.

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