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McKinney Students Rally Against Charter School

Fort Greene school's boosters say future of arts-focused programs is at risk.

There's a fight brewing at Susan McKinney JHS 265 in Fort Greene and it centers on the future of the 3rd floor.

That's the location where McKinney students like 14-year-old Kijara Moore of Bed-Stuy currently practice their dance moves, play music and continue their aspirations for a career in the arts.

"If this charter school comes in, it's gone," said Kijara's mother, Sheniqua Moore, at a protest Thursday against the proposed co-location of Success Academy.

At issue at the afternoon rally on the school's steps was the inclusion of a K-5 charter program that McKinney parents say will take up much of the 3rd floor space currently dedicated to older students studying the arts.

Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz said the proposed co-location was prompted by high demand among District 13 parents.

"We have heard from hundreds of parents ... who are looking for another high quality public option for their children," Moskowitz said. "We're very excited about this possible location and look forward to talking with local families over the next several months about how Success Academy can meet that overwhelming demand."

Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, who spoke out Thursday against the charter school's inclusion in the JHS 265 building, said that Success Charter should find another location.

"I, too, have heard from families across the district looking for high quality school options, but, Susan McKinney is not a failing school, and location is everything," James said in a statement. "If parents knew that co locating Success at Susan McKinney would lead to over crowded classrooms and hallways and less space for children to learn and grow, they too would be rejecting this poorly conceived plan."

According to James, the city Department of Education pegged McKinney's enrollment at 440 students, when it is actually 510.

Even with DOE's headcount, the inclusion of Success Academy would put the aging school building on Park Avenue at 102 percent capacity.

James said operating over capacity would endanger students, compromise education, and eliminate state mandated resource rooms.

Native Son October 13, 2012 at 03:05 PM
@ Jones: Apparently, you did not read the article. According to Councilwoman James, the DOE undercounted the student population of Susan McKinney Jr High by some 70 students. That does sound like 50% capacity to me. The Charter School model as advocated by Eva Moskowitz and others, are not public schools but are actually private schools operating as public. They isolate teachers by circumventing the union. They cherry pick the best students in the district while rejecting students with special needs, ESL issues, learning disabilities and behavioral disabilities. Rather than deal with students who pose disiplinary problems, they simply expell them. Moreover, they typically take up valuable space in public school buildings, creating classic conflicts like the one we now see at Susan McKinney. While I am against the public subsidizing of private schools, if they must exist, let them find their own stand alone locations instead of appropiating already existing public school facilities and day care centers.
Native Son October 13, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Obviously, I made an error. I meant to say,"That does not sound like 50% capacity to me."
Jones October 14, 2012 at 01:19 PM
The building has a capacity of 1065 students. Even with 70 additional students added to the current population count the building is only at 48% capacity! There is more than enough room in this building.
DM October 14, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The DOE's footprint analysis is flawed. For example, my school has been co-located with a Success Charter School. We were told the same things regarding all the extra space in our building by DOE. Our guidance counselor is now working with our school's neediest children in a closet. Many of those needy children were pushed out of Success Charter School. This is only one example of the many ways that this co-location will undoubtedly hurt the public school.
sandy October 14, 2012 at 10:41 PM
If a different style of charter that had an arts focus was located there it would be different. All charters are not the same. I think the Success model can be seen as alienating. A school like Comm. Roots which has a more open learning style while still focused on learning could have been a better fit. They already have a location though. Also McKinney can look into partnering with successful arts schools that also make the grades like: PPAS, LaGuardia, Murrow etc)

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