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Look who’s moving in - Charter school looks for space

Another charter school battle could soon begin in Red Hook.

The neighborhood’s residents fumed when the city Department of Education (DOE) decided to open the PAVE Academy charter school in P.S. 15’s building this year. Now, the DOE has approved another charter school hoping to open in an existing public school in Red Hook.

According to the Summit Academy Charter School’s Web site, www.summitacademycharterschool.org, “We have already started looking for a building and have indicated to the DOE that we are interested in any shared space they might have available.”

In such a situation, an existing school that the DOE deems underutilized would be asked to relinquish classrooms to accommodate the new charter school. Space-sharing arrangements have been met with controversy and frustration from parents.

“I would share the concerns of the community that by sharing facilities with an existing school in the neighborhood, it would in all likelihood have a significant destabilizing effect on that [existing] school,” said Jim Devor, first vice president of District 15’s Community Education Council (CEC), which advocates for schools in Red Hook, Park Slope and Sunset Park.

In the case of PAVE and P.S. 15, which is located at 71 Sullivan Street, PAVE now occupies four classrooms, a computer room, a small administrative room, and an administrative suite consisting of two affixed rooms.

PAVE, which was intended to remain in P.S. 15 until fall 2010, is currently searching for a permanent location. That has raised questions about the future of P.S. 15’s building. P.S. 15 could either reclaim the classrooms occupied by PAVE or ultimately house a new small or charter school.

“We have to look at the needs of the community,” explained a DOE spokesperson. “It’s very likely that the underutilized space would be used in some way. Some schools apply for grade reconfigurations or want to increase their enrollment. There are ways P.S. 15 could expand.”

If the space becomes available for a small or charter school, the Summit Academy might take note.

The DOE recently approved the Summit Academy’s proposal. The state Board of Regents is now reviewing the proposal and will make a final decision about whether or not the school will open.

The school seeks to open next fall with 100 students in sixth grade. The school would ultimately grow to accommodate 444 students in grades six to 12.

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