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Critics told The Post that twelve of New York City’s charter schools have yet to open — 11 years after being greenlit — and suspect that’s largely due to “desperate” protests and legal sabotage by the United Federation of Teachers. Will be starting this fall.
Dormant NYC charters of 275 authorized by SUNY and the State Board of Regents can begin, whether the state legislature approves or not. Hochul’s hotly debated plan to lift the cap on charter schools, if they get in place.
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The 12 charters that have never been used include five Success Academy schools approved by SUNY in 2014.
The network, which already runs 49 schools across the city, was to give the go-ahead to open Brooklyn Elementary – one of its never-used charters – as well as Queens Middle School for the 2023-24 academic year.
But a lawsuit just filed by the UFT wants to block those two charters from sharing space with schools run by the city’s Department of Education.
The suit argues that officials failed to consider the impact of a new law reducing class sizes, which may require more space in DOE schools.
The UFT and anti-charter allies have filed more than a dozen unsuccessful lawsuits over the past decade to defund Success Academy schools.
Charter teachers are not unionized, and union leaders fear charters could result in loss of students doe layoffs,
James Merriman, CEO of NYC Charter Schools, said, “This lawsuit — like dozens that have come before it — is nothing less than a desperate attempt to stifle the growth of good schools, and we are confident it will fail.” The Center is a non-profit organization that advocates for all charters throughout the city.
in one fell swoop, DOE pulls “co-location” Three other new Success Academy schools — up for approval in January by the Panel for Educational Policy — face an opposition campaign by the UFT, anti-charter activists and parents and staff sharing in city buildings.
Chancellor David Banks promised that the DOE would look for other locations.
Ann Powell, a spokeswoman for Success Academy, said, “We would open all these charters tomorrow if we could, but we need school facilities.” “If the DOE comes soon enough, we’ll have four new schools open in August.”
Under state law, DOE must find space for publicly funded charter schools in city-owned buildings, or pay at least 30 percent of their rent in private space.
DOE now spends $123 million in rent for charters and $3 billion in total for privately operated schools.
Success Academy, which has a cash reserve from grants and contributions, paid $30 million last month for an adjacent lot at 11 Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.
Powell said the vacant car dealership would be used to build a new high school for 1,200 to 1,500 students who attend the network’s middle schools, but an opening date has not been set.
The independent Stratford Preparatory Charter School for Boys was set to open in the Bronx last fall after organizers renovated classrooms at a Catholic school.
The DOE had already paid their first two months’ rent, said Dominic Nutt, a former teacher in the city who laid the foundation.
Nutt said that in the midst of the pandemic, the school managed to enroll only 75 students instead of the 100 they had previously promised.
Two weeks before the school was to open, she said, the state Department of Education “took away the charter.”
SUNY granted Unusual Schools, which runs 54 charters in NYC and four other cities, a one-year extension to open a new Brooklyn school, now due in 2024-25.
A SUNY document states that Uncommon asked the DOE to let it into empty classrooms, but “has been consistently denied by the public space”.
Other charters that are seeking a postponement to open schools until after next year: Achievement First, American Dream, Brooklyn Ascend, and Explore, which has not opened two schools approved by SUNY in 2012.
Explore has agreed to transfer the charters to another operator.
Ken Girardin, a fellow at the watchdog Empire Center for Public Policy, called the 12 unused charters a lost opportunity. “You have people who want kids to be educated, parents who want their kids to go there, and city taxpayers who want more bang for their education.”
The governor’s plan, included in budget negotiations, would allow up to 100 new charter schools to open in NYC, including replacing so-called “zombie” charters that had closed or been shuttered.
UFT tries to block greenlit NYC charter schools
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