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Hundreds of residents blasted a plan to shoehorn a charter school into Roy H. Mann middle school during a crowded hearing at the Mill Basin school on Tuesday night.
The skeptics view the push to co-locate a Success Academy elementary school at the E. 68th Street middle school as an effort by Mayor Bloomberg to entrench his charter-school agenda before his administration expires at the beginning of 2014.
“I think the Bloomberg Administration is rushing to leave their thumbprint on these schools, which they’ve ignored up until now,” said Michael Benjamin, the president of the Bergen Beach Civic Association.
The opponents of the city’s plan hope that the overwhelming show of unified opposition will persuade the Eva Moskowitz-run charter school chain to move on to greener pastures in other neighborhoods.
“It was an awesome turnout,” said Assemblyman Alan Maisel. “Every seat in the auditorium was taken. People were sitting the lobby it was so packed.”
Maisel took particular issue with the fact that the charter school would serve grades K-four, in an area already served by several excellent elementary schools, from which the charter school would likely seek to draw the most successful students.
“The elementary schools are wonderful schools and they have been for 50 years,” said Maisel. “So, now you’re going to put in a charter that will compete with these good schools? There’s no sense in that.”
The Community Board 15 area is used to winning battles against charter schools. With the help of Maisel and Councilman Lew Fidler, the community prevailed in a 2009 charter school battle, when the Hebrew Language Academy, a High School proposed to be co-located with the Marine Park Junior High School, quietly found a different location after the teachers and parents demonstrated strong disapproval of the plan.
At that time, however, Bloomberg was running for his third and final term, and so perhaps more sensitive to community outrage.
“The politics were different then, you had a mayor running for reelection,” said Maisel. “This time, he’s on his way out.”
Regardless, the opposition was enthusiastic as its numbers swelled on Tuesday night, and spirits were bolstered by the school’s band, cheerleading squad, and from students enrolled in Roy H. Mann’s cooking classes, who struggled to provide cookies for the legions of charter school critics.
Now that the opposition has gathered and made a demonstration of its numbers, it’sll have to take its criticism on the road and appear at the upcoming Panel for Educational Policy meeting at a Classon Avenue High School in distant Prospect Heights on Oct. 15. There, critics will have an opportunity to speak in front of the panel before it makes a final vote on the proposal. Busses to the meeting will leave Roy H. Mann at 4 pm.
Panel for Educational Policy meeting at the Prospect Heights High School Campus [883 Classon Ave. between Union and President streets in Prospect Heights]. Oct. 15 at 6 pm. Sign up to speak at 5:30 pm. Busses will leave Roy H. Mann at 4 pm.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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