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Four co-location votes delayed as Fariña cites need for more input

A Success Academy parent spoke at the January Panel for Education Policy meeting.
A Success Academy parent spoke at the January Panel for Education Policy meeting.
Kay Nguyen

Four contested co-location proposals won’t get a final stamp of approval until at least next month.

During what was perhaps the most crowded Panel for Educational Policy meeting of her tenure, Chancellor Carmen Fariña asked the board on Thursday to delay its votes on four plans, citing the need for more discussion with school leaders, Community Education Council members, and parents at the schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

“Given the outpouring of the emails and phone calls from you as well as the communities in Brooklyn that I and the mayor have received, I recommend that the PEP table these proposals to allow for additional engagement,” Fariña said during the meeting at the Taft Educational Campus in the Bronx.

The delays illustrate the difficult position the de Blasio administration has found itself in as it navigates how to require schools to share buildings while fulfilling its promises to improve how the city works with school communities.

Department officials have said recently that the city has already reformed many parts of the co-location process, noting that deputy chancellors have done walk-throughs of the buildings, parents and school leadership teams have been offered additional meetings to voice concerns, and officials have met with Community Education Councils to make sure their concerns were also heard.

But there were signs of trouble before Thursday’s meeting. The joint public hearings for Success Academy Bed-Stuy 1 and Academic Leadership Charter School were tense. And on Thursday, Public Advocate Letitia James called for the votes to be delayed because the city’s estimates of how much space is available in each building, laid out in the “Blue Book,” had not yet been updated.

During his campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to put a moratorium on charter school co-locations while the city studied the impact of co-locations and better accounted for how much space is truly available in schools. When he announced last February that some new co-locations would proceed, the city said it would form an advisory group to review the Blue Book and suggest changes.

Members of that group said Thursday that they were still working.

“We sent a letter in November asking the mayor to keep his promise of a moratorium on co-locations until the Blue Book working group finishes our work,” said Tesa Wilson, president of District 14’s Community Education Council and a member of the Blue Book working group.

The board voted to table these four plans, which will come back before the panel in February or March:

  • Co-locating Academy Leadership Charter School with P.S. 277 in the Bronx
  • Expanding Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx, which is co-located with I.S. 117 Joseph Wade Academies
  • Co-locating the high school grades of Achievement First East New York and Achievement First Bushwick (known as Achievement First University Prep High School) with I.S. 347 School of the Humanities and I.S. 349 Math Science and Tech
  • Expanding Success Academy Charter School Bed-Stuy 1, which is co-located with School for the Urban Environment, Foundations Academy, and a District 75 program

Correction: An earlier version of this story implied that all four tabled co-location proposals involved charter schools. Only three do; Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx and I.S. 117 are both district schools.

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