Saturday, May 23, 2009

Marine Park Community Set to Protest the HLA Charter School Proposed to be placed within Marine Park JHS/IS 278

No matter where your school is located, you are in the same danger of these privatizers. This case is particularly egregious. Ed Notes wrote about it here. We pointed out that the "lottery" was held in a YMHA on a Sunday afternoon without community notice. There are religious and political implications behind this. A prime issue is how the lie that they would find their own building was used to get approval.

If you can support these parents and teachers, come on down on Tuesday night. I will be there to video tape the event. We should use events like this to call for the state legislature to end mayoral control.

On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, the Marine Park Community will mobilize and protest at the Department of Education Public Hearing at IS 278, 1925 Stuart Street, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

Parents and Community members are vehemently opposed to the placement of any charter school within IS 278 in District 22 in Brooklyn. A charter school being dually housed inside the building with the Intermediate School would negatively impact the educational process of the school, harming not only the current students but the community as a whole. The intrusion of the Charter school will greatly limit the students’ access to fundamental spaces in the building such as the gym, library, and lunchroom. The loss of classroom space to the Charter will result in larger class sizes for the IS 278 students. Space restrictions will also cause the students to lose access to lunchtime tutoring sessions with their teachers and programming access to the schools renowned and award winning music program. The Charter School will also cause unnecessary traffic congestion that will endanger the lives of the current and incoming students.

When HLA made its application, at the public meeting June 23, 2008 it specifically stated when questioned that it would not place the charter within any public school, but would be acquiring their own private space. This obviously was not the truth.

For several years Marine Park JHS has petitioned with enormous community support to be allowed to extend itself from a 6-8 to a 6-12 school. This is a much better concept as it group students of the same age group who could continue to utilize all the space without loss of existing programs and create a performing arts school. The DOE has stated that there is no room for this reasonable request yet now states that there is room for an additional school with all its ancillary facilities. We question the DOE’s support of a special interest group over the needs and wants of the neighborhood community.

The dual housing of schools will impede the use of vital facilities such as the gymnasium, library, cafeteria and computer centers. Marine Park JHS currently has approx. 1,100 students and three lunch periods beginning at 10:00 am and ending at 1:00 pm. When would the HLA plan on having lunch for their 150 students (5 and 6 year olds) when they would not be commingling with 11 to 14 year old.

The space utilized by the dual housing of schools will result in a reduction or loss of the access to the rooms required by the renowned and award winning music (both instrumental and choral), drama and art programs that are currently in place at Marine Park JHS. Marine Park JHS is used on an ongoing basis by several local organizations to provide vital after-school activities. These programs include participants from all age groups and from all different schools (public and private). With the siting of this charter and its planned extended day, these much needed services would be lost to the children of the Marine Park community.

Charter schools are fundamentally meant to be housed in Districts with failing schools to offer an alternative educational choice to parents. District 22 prides itself on its long history of success in almost all of its schools. The community did not ask for nor is in need of Charter School intervention. Why is the community being forced to cut services to the children of this community school? Each year that the charter school is housed inside of IS 278, the community will lose more space for its children who want to attend IS 278.

The community has left their opinions to both Deputy Mayor Walcott and Mayor Bloomberg, flooding 311 with calls over the past 2 weeks. Thousands of signatures in opposition have been collected. The community’s outrage has been voiced at every Civic and Public venue available. Senator Marty Golden, Councilman Lew Fidler, Assemblyman Alan Maisel,other elected officials and civic leaders have added their voices in opposition to this plan.

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