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New York Post
UFT, Democrat lawmakers move to deny space for charter school kids
By Carl Campanile, Priscilla DeGregory,
It’s a one-two attempted hit against New York City’s charter schools.
The city teachers’ union filed a lawsuit Tuesday to try to block charters from sharing public school sites, while sympathetic Democratic state lawmakers introduced legislation that would scrap related funding.
If successful, the double whammy would essentially block the opening of new charter schools by denying them classroom facilities and resources necessary to teach their students.
In its lawsuit, the United Federation of Teachers cited a new class-size law to try to invalidate the co-location of two Success Academy charter schools at public school buildings in Queens and Brooklyn.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and the Panel for Education Policy last fall approved the co-placement of the Success Academy charter schools with the Waterside School for Leadership in Far Rockaway, Queens, and the Sheepshead Bay Educational Campus that is home to Origins High School, Professional Pathways High School, and New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science III.
But the plaintiffs, which include parents as well as the United Federation of Teachers, claim education officials did not take into account the new law to lower class sizes as part of its space analysis and approval for the cohabitation.
“The [Department of Education] has misled parents, the public, and [charter-approving officials] regarding the actual impacts of its proposed co-locations, including both schools’ ability to comply with impending requirements of the new Class Size Law,” the lawsuit says.
The DOE underestimated the effects of the co-locations by assuming that current class sizes in these schools would continue into the foreseeable future, ignoring the requirements of the new state class size law that means more classrooms would be needed for the existing traditional public schools, the suit claims.
At the behest of the teachers’ union, Hochul and the state Legislature approved the state law mandating lower class sizes over the objections of Adams — coming at a time when the student population has plummeted and classroom overcrowding is not a problem at most schools.
Adams has said the law handcuffs the city’s ability to devote more resources to the students that need them most.
Ann Powell, spokeswoman for Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, said in response to the lawsuit, “The UFT and their allies have tried to sue almost 20 times before to prevent Success Academy co-locations and have never been successful because they are without merit.”
A city Law Department spokesman said, “We will review the case once served.”
Meanwhile, state Sen. Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) and state Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon have introduced legislation that if approved, would make it nearly impossible for charter schools to afford to rent space in privately owned buildings.
Their measure, backed by the anti-charter UFT, would scrap city funding that reimburses charter schools for the bills they pay to lease space in private buildings.
The city currently pays about $200 million in payments to charter schools for rent in private buildings.
Adams has complained about the city footing a larger rental assistance bill — up to $ 1 billion more over time — if Albany lifts the cap to open more charter schools, without providing funding to offset those costs.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo , who had pro-charter allies in the Republican-led state Senate on his side, began requiring the city to pay rent for charter schools to locate in private facilities if the city Department of Education denied them free space in the city’s public school buildings.
The Jackson-Simon bill seeks to undo that law.
Jackson, who sends one of his own daughters to the posh, private $56,250-a-year Dwight School on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, has long resisted charter schools as an option for poor and working-class minority parents.
“New York City (NYC) is the only municipality in the state that has a requirement to reimburse private spaces leased by charter schools,” Jackson and Simon said in a bill memo.
“The cost to the DOE of rental payments for charter schools is increasing fast and will likely continue to do so, as enrollments expand and rents increase, funds which could be used instead to upgrade and expand the capacity of our public schools.”
Ed Cox , the state Republican Party chairman who previously served on the State University of New York’s committee that licenses charter schools, slammed the moves by the UFT and the lawmakers as anti-parent and anti-student.
“There are 200,000 fewer students in the city school system than just a few years ago. There’s space available. Provide charter schools the space,” Cox said.
He added, “Gov. Hochul should veto any bill that denies charter schools rental assistance.”
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