Charter chaffe: PS 114 stakeholders declare victory; worry about charter school coming in

Stakeholders in PS 114 say they won a “partial victory” in keeping their beloved Remsen Avenue school open — but some are angry over the fact that the school will now have to share space with a charter school.

“We saved the school but having a charter school coming in here is an insult to everything we’ve done” Councilman Charles Barron (D–East New York) told this paper during a small celebratory pizza party Friday with a handful of PS 114 parents and teachers. “We don’t want the charter school here and we don’t need it here. The space it will take up will hinder our goal to bring PS 114 back to the level it once was and there’s going to be tension when these two schools share public space.”

After months of debate and finger pointing, the Department of Education took PS 114 off its list of schools slated for closure, admitting that a wayward principal they hired drove the school into the ground, leaving it more than $180,000 in debt.

PS 114 was saved, but the Department of Education still plans on putting the Explore Excel Charter school in the same building, claiming that the century-old schoolhouse has plentyof space.

But Barron disagrees, claiming that charter schools and city public schools shouldn’t co-habitate.

“If the mayor wants to create charter schools, he should build them with his own money,” Barron said. “He shouldn’t be using public buildings to forward this agenda.”

The Explore Excel School will officially be allowed to open inside PS 114 on March 23, when the Parents for Educational Policy rubberstamps the plan.

Once open, any student attending a district school which has received a D or an F on its progress report will be allowed to attend the new charter.

For now, some PS 114 parents and educators say they will focus their attention on how to improve their own beleaguered school, and not worry about the charter school.

“I’m not concerned about the charter,” said physical education teacher Scott Schwartz, who is also a United Federation of Teachers delegate. “I’m concerned about getting back on track and making this school a success again.”

Other teachers didn’t see the inherent divisiveness between public schools and charter schools sharing the same space.

“This is not West Side Story,” said third grade teacher Fran Cohen. “It’s not the Sharks vs. the Jets. We’re about educating the children. That should be our fight. Not a fight for turf.”

The Panel for Education Policy will vote on approving the Explore Excel School’s move into PS 114 on March 23 at Brooklyn Tech High School [29 Fort Greene Place between DeKalb and Lafayette avenues in Fort Greene] at 6 pm. Oral comments about the move can be left at (212) 374-0208. Written comments can be sent to D18proposals@schools.nyc.gov.

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