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‘Charter’ territory! Parents in ‘failing’ MS 571 fight to keep out elite school

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Prospect Heights parents slammed the city on Monday night for moving to close a poorly performing middle school to make room for an elite charter school from outside the neighborhood.

PS 9 parents have all but given up their fight to save MS 571 — a struggling middle school that shares their Underhill Avenue building — and are now focusing on blocking the city push to bring in Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School from Crown Heights.

The parents claim that the PS 9 building is overcrowded — and, besides, if a middle school is coming in, PS 9 administrators want it to be an expansion of their school, not an outside one.

“If their plan includes a new school, our principal should be in charge of the curriculum instead of both schools competing for space,” PS 9 parent Natalie Nevares said at a rally on Monday night at the school.

Parents from the charter school and PS 9 packed the school’s auditorium for a Department of Education hearing on the merger. Brooklyn East Collegiate, which opened last year as only a fifth grade program, is looking for a new home because its current space is temporary and it will now operate with two grade levels.

MS 571 is on the chopping block because its students have scored in the bottom 10 percent on math tests, and the bottom two percent on English tests in recent years.

The school earned a D grade on its city progress report last year, which gave it F grades in categories including student performance, progress and overall “school environment.”

But Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) argued that there have been “improvements” at the middle school.

“The Department of Education has failed to help [these] students succeed,” James told parents at a rally late last year. “And it has overlooked state test scores, which show improvemen­ts.”

City officials dismissed the state evaluation as essentially meaningless.

“The state progress report [that James cited] is a one-year snapshot that is broad and uniform — we’re more hands on and the school has done horribly,” said Education spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

MS 571’s principal, Santosha Troutman, has been unreachable for weeks.

Opponents of the closure also complain that the city hasn’t funneled enough resources to the middle school, but statistics show otherwise. The city spends $18,907 per student at MS 571 each year, which is more than $4,000 more than it spends on average citywide, according to expenditure reports.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote at Brooklyn Tech HS [29 Fort Greene Pl. at DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, (212) 374-0208], Feb. 3, 6 pm.

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Reader Feedback

Catherine from Prospect Heights says:
Three schools in the 80 Underhill Avenue building is simply TOO MANY SCHOOLS and UNFAIR TO ALL THREE SCHOOLS AND THEIR STUDENTS. PS 9 parents and school leaders request a transformational model for MS 571 - in essence re-creating it as a middle school extension of PS 9. Brooklyn East Collegiate(BEC) has many other location options and the school was originally chartered for District 23, but now resides in District 17 - in a building owned by their network, Uncommon Schools. Why they should suddenly need to reside District 13 after jumping around from two other Districts is anyone's guess (Wait a minute - Atlantic Yards and Uncommon Schools? Develop Don't Destroy?...hmmmm... sounds terribly familiar!)... But if they need to be here - let them move into the DOE building on the corner of Park Place and Underhill Avenue, just two blocks away from PS 9. The temporary high school residing there is getting ready to move out - just in time! With their charter's corporate backing, BEC has resources - they don't truly need the 80 Underhill Avenue building. The same cannot be said of PS 9/MS 571. There's no way out for either of the current schools - except to "fail". DOE and PEP Panel members - please rethink this plan that will clearly harm the learning environment at all three schools - PS 9/MS 571/BEC. The plan states that should PS 9 grow to scale as it currently appears that it will, the DOE reserves the right to move Brooklyn East Collegiate out again, after just two years. You'd think the BEC leadership and parents would want a stable home for their children. At the public hearing, which I attended, BEC's people clearly stated that they want only the best for their students - wouldn't that include a suitable location and hospitable learning environment?
Jan. 26, 2011, 7:34 pm
Sean from Prospect Heights says:
Three is schools is indeed WAY too many. Is there any reason why the building on Underhill at Park Place is not suitable? It's only two blocks away. PS9 students cannot have their hard-fought resources already compromised. And don't BEC parents want their kids in one place, not 3 in as many years? This plan makes no sense at all.
Jan. 27, 2011, 10:35 am
Maria from Prospect Heights says:
There is a Rally to Oppose this imposition by the DOE:
JOIN NYC COUNCIL MEMBER LETITIA JAMES
in PROTEST against the CO-LOCATION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS in the
PS 9/MS 571 and PS 316/MS 353 BUILDINGS
When: SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2011 @ 1:00 PM
Where: DURYEA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
362 STERLING PLACE (corner of Underhill Avenue)
**enter down side stairs on Sterling Place**
PLEASE JOIN US IN SAYING THAT WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!!!
Jan. 27, 2011, 10:43 pm

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