What’s old is new again: Beginning with Children, a local foundation with deep roots in Williamsburg, moved one of its charter schools into a building that holds special historic significance.
Beginning with Children 2 will be housed at 11 Bartlett Street, an old Pfizer headquarters building where the foundation opened its eponymous first school. That original school pioneered a charter-like model in 1992 — before charter schools were formally allowed to operate in New York. While the school was ultimately shut down, it paved the way for hundreds of other charters.
Beginning with Children Foundation was started by philanthropists interested in public education. But its flagship school stumbled in 2014 when a disagreement erupted over teacher contract issues and whether the school was making enough academic progress. The board took the unprecedented step of giving up its charter and the foundation walked away from the school, which was later shuttered.
But the foundation that originally backed the school never went away. It started two other schools: Community Partnership Charter, in 2000, and Beginning with Children 2 in 2012. On Friday, the latter moved into 11 Bartlett Street. Fifth-grade students started the year there, and the school hopes to expand through eighth grade at the Bartlett Street campus.
“Our founders, Joe and Carol Reich, opened the original Beginning with Children School here 25 years ago. It was a groundbreaking K-8 school – a unique public-private partnership with the New York City Department of Education,” said Beginning with Children Foundation Executive Director Nancy Lewson Kurz in a statement. “Today is a continuation of that legacy of excellence, innovation and community engagement.”