The city approved a charter school’s controversial expansion within a Red Hook public school early on Wednesday morning — despite the efforts of scores of teachers and parents to prevent it.
The city’s Panel for Educational Policy, whose members are picked by the mayor and the five borough presidents, voted 8-4-1 to approve the PAVE Academy’s plan to occupy more space in PS 15. But of the eight votes in favor of the charter school, only one came from a member of the panel not appointed by the mayor — a clear indication that not everyone in the city’s political establishment backs the charter-school-loving mayor.
The approval will allow the PAVE Academy to remain inside PS 15 on Sullivan Street — and continue its expansion from a kindergarten-through-second-grade program to a full K-8 program — for three more years, before the charter school is supposed to find its own building.
The vote came at 3:30 am on Wednesday — after the far more controversial item on the agenda: a city plan to close 19 low-performing schools.
As a result, PAVE Academy founder and director Spencer Robertson didn’t even get to speak until 2:30 am. He was booed throughout.
PS 15 teacher Julie Cavanaugh saw the contentious case as part of a larger effort by Mayor Bloomberg to move city public schools towards a private-school-style education model.
“It’s a clear, intentional policy to undermine and dismantle public education,” Cavanaugh said.
She and other teachers and parents pledged to continue fighting the process, which they say will undermine the quality of education at their school.
The simmering tensions between PS 15 and the charter school, reached a boiling point when the city announced the charter school could remain in the facility for an additional five years while growing by one grade a year.
Three years was supposed to be a compromise, but Cavenaugh, for one, doesn’t believe that Robertson’s academy will be out of PS 15 that soon.
“You know damn well that building won’t be built in three years — three years my ass!” she said. “It will be a whole other ordeal and a whole other fight.”
©2010 Community News Group
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