High-powered Eva Moskowitz wants to open a charter school in MS 447

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city is gearing up to give away more than one third of a top-notch Boerum Hill middle school to a politically connected charter school company — and parents say it will stretch facilities thin and undermine a rare program for autistic students.

Eva Moskowitz — a former Councilwoman who runs the multi-million dollar not-for-profit, Success Charter Network — announced last week she wants to open a kindergarten-through-eighth grade school in Brownstone Brooklyn next fall, saying the “need for more better schools” and “underutili­zed buildings” in the area makes it a perfect fit.

But only two buildings in the neighborhood have enough space to accommodate the 800-student public charter school, according to the Department of Education: The School for International Studies on Baltic and Court streets or the MS 447 building on Dean Street and Third Avenue.

Parents at MS 447 are pushing back, saying that the 1,200-odd students currently at the building — which houses the High School of the Arts and the so-called NEST Program for autistic kids — already attend 30-student classes and compete for gym, auditorium and cafeteria space.

“This is an A-listed school and we want to keep it that way,” said Michelle Ifill-Williams, the co-president of the Parent Teacher Association, explaining that students eat lunch in rotating cafeteria shifts that begin at 10:10 am. “How can we possibly be successful when we’re already this tight for space?”

Parents also point out that autistic students in the small-but-respected sixth-through-eighth-grade program may suffer: They’re now integrated into regular, but smaller, classroom settings with about 20-students — which could grow if another school moves in.

“It will jeopardize the program’s success,” said Ifill-Williams.

The city says that the MS 447 building has 654 “seats” and the nearby School for International studies has about 690 seats.

A Department of Education spokesman said the city is “interested” in MS 447 for the new Success Charter Network school, but a decision has not been made.

Moskowitz’s charter schools, which she describes as “a public school independent of the bureaucracy,” are run by an independent board, which allows for a more flexible structure and curriculum than district schools.

The one that Moskowitz hopes to open would start next fall with 190 kindergarten and first graders and would grow by one grade each year until it’s a full K-8 school. Students will be chosen using a lottery system and are not required to take a test to get accepted.

It’s not the first time MS 447 — which is located in District 15 and is sometimes called the “Math and Science Exploratory School” — has engaged in a battle for space. In 2007, the city housed the smaller-but-more-controversial Khalil Gibran International Academy in the building. That experiment lasted only one year.

The city has not yet analyzed the physical space at the facilities that Moskowitz is eyeing, but the former Councilwoman — whose non-profit company pays her $250,000 annually — is already jockeying in hopes of rallying support.

“At first there are a lot of fears, so it’s important to meet and talk with people about it,” said Moskowitz. “A lot of rumors fly.”

To dispel such rumors and fears, Moskowitz’s company hired a high-profile PR firm to bang out a press release claiming that 1,500 Cobble Hill residents signed a petition to support a charter school in the neighborhood. Her company also spent $16,000 on a high-powered lobbyist.

Moskowitz added that she’s eyeing MS 447 because of the available seats.

“We don’t go into schools that are crunched for space,” she said.

Her words aren’t calming local parents — who began circulating e-mails and memos last week after Moskowitz’s PR firm announced the company plan.

“Space ought to be carefully thought out,” said a parent of a special-needs child. “It’s all very alarming.”

Updated 11:53 am, October 19, 2011: Updates the original online story to correct a byline typo which was strictly the editor's mistake. Man, he sucks.
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Reasonable discourse

Furtgo from Fort Greene says:
Moskowitz must think that there are autism nest programs all over the city, but there isn't.

It will be hard to fit another school into that building, with it's strange layout.

How about stopping this charter school movement and use the ideas on improving the schools that already exist?

This also looks bad for the charter if it's a purely political connections move.
Oct. 19, 2011, 8:32 am
Neighbor from Boerum Hill says:
YES,YES,YES! Finally! We need more top notch schools in Brownstone Brooklyn that reflect the neighborhood. There are five or so brand new hi-rise residential buildings within blocks of this school. Where are all of the children in these buildings supposed to attend school?
Oct. 19, 2011, 9:43 am
Tony V from South Slope says:
I started hating Moskowitz even more here:

Moskowitz . . . but the former Councilwoman — whose non-profit company pays her $250,000 annually . . .

Talk about being an opportunist using a former city position to milk the city, disrupt communities and soak up some nice cash from an alleged NFP. Give me a break.

As for the Boerum Hill resident comment -- how about some schools that reflect "Project Brooklyn" of Boerum Hill. Amazing how the elites/closet racists come to the forefront to move out autistic children for their precious little dipshits.

How does that idea of Brownstone Brooklyn square with hi-rise Brooklyn.
Oct. 19, 2011, 9:50 am
Chris from Fort Greene says:
Hmmm - anyone who has ever set foot in MS 447 would really have to question how this could possibly be feasible. 447's space is already so cramped and bizarre that its hard to imagine how another school could fit in the building. I've only seen the portion that 447 occupies and it seems pretty inadequate for the number of students that are already there. Perhaps there's some other pocket of space in the very weirdly laid out building that they're proposing to put this new school into. Having recently gone through the middle school choice and admissions process, I can say that many parents who were attracted to 447's very strong program passed on the school in favor of MS 51 or a number of other schools partly because 447's space seems strangely inadequate.
Oct. 19, 2011, 10:01 am
Leah from Park Slope says:
As a 447 parent, I fail to understand where they found room for an additional 600 seats. Both my daughter and son attend/have attended that school--neither in the NEST program, though. In the general ed program there are about 34 kids per class, and they start lunch periods at 10 in the morning in a share with the HS of the Arts. How is there more room?

To Boerum Hill's point--perhaps we could get more funding for existing schools like 447 so they can add classes! 447 is a diverse school that serves neighborhood kids, some of which have special needs. We don't need Moskowitz parachuting in and telling us what we need for our kids--lets get the schools already on the ground some more resources so they can expand their existing programming to accommodate more children.
Oct. 19, 2011, 10:24 am
Anne from Upper West Side says:
Moskowitz's schools worm their way into tight spaces through her political connections and then take over more space than they said they would. True fact. You do not want her in your building...just talk to anyone at PS123, PS241, Frank McCourt HS. What you DO want is for families to mobilize & put pressure on the DOE to strengthen local schools and special needs programs - why don't we make them take care of the schools they already have???? Why do we let them just fork over space that we know is or will soon be needed by the general, DOE-served population? The DOE not only tees up prime locations, but even facilitates and sometimes encourages the marketing of kids away from the neighborhood schools to her Harlem schools. Fight back now. Do your own data-crunching; walk through MS447 with a pad and paper - count and measure rooms, closets, offices etc.
Oct. 19, 2011, 11:46 am
al pankin from downtown says:
why doesn't the city just take back the school building that was given to the private religous school on smith st..
what was it given in the first place?
Oct. 19, 2011, 1:45 pm
Ace from New Utrecht says:
"When she launched Harlem Success four years ago with the backing of a group of hedge fund millionaires, Moskowitz vowed to expand to more than 20 schools in a few years."
Oct. 19, 2011, 3:28 pm
Phil from Ft. Greene says:
This is all about the privatizing of public education, and Moskowitz is just another enabler/symptom...but so is Bloomberg, Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch (whose husband is in the Charter School business) and President Obama, of all people!

Last year I was at a meeting in Ft Greene where a DOE director explained their formula for "underutilized schools." They take ALL the square footage, including gyms, cafeterias, bathrooms, auditoriums, offices, and janitor closets and divide the sum by the number of students. Somehow they decipher that number into classroom space, and if there are less than 29 students in that mythical classroom, the school is underutilized! AND he admitted they used a different formula for charter schools: only classrooms, none of the rest of the necessary space, and the number of students below which the school is "underutilized" is only 19 students!

The Mayor and his puppet Chancellor have stacked the deck to take our schools away and give them to hedge fund operatives like Moskowitz. Stand up and fight them, everybody!
Oct. 19, 2011, 3:49 pm
Michael from Prospect Heights says:
Oct. 19, 2011, 4:11 pm
Parent from Windsor Terrace says:
I remember when this first came up last year, when Lisa Gioe was still the Principal there. She immediately recalled sitting in a meeting with the higher ups at Tweed, in which they PROMISED that MS 447 and High School for the Arts would never be forced, again, to share the building with another school.

I guess we know how much the DOE promises are worth. But how stupid they are! This is one of the best middle schools in the District. How about supporting the school instead of taking aware one of the few resources that public schools actually have left... the space that is has so carefully made for itself in that confusing building!

And Moskowitz "we don't go into schools that are crunched for space" is a damn liar.
Oct. 19, 2011, 8:35 pm
neighbor from Boerum Hill says:
I didn't suggest the nest program be moved out, nor do I condone the development of hi-rises- but they were built and the residents have children and children need schools. I have lived in Boerum Hill for almost 25 years. My multi-racial children are now in HS and the fact remains that there is a dearth of adequate middle and high schools for Brownstone Brooklyn families. Surely a space can be found to house a much needed new school.

As for Tony V "project Brooklyn" ? Talk about closet racist!
Oct. 20, 2011, 7:17 am
Neighbor from Carroll Gardens says:
Neighbor from Boerum Hill,

My multiracial kids are also in high school. They attended public district 15 elementary schools. Isn't a new school being built on 4th Ave. that will be used by districts 13 and 15? We do need middle school seats. If there is really space in the Math and Science maybe the DOE should expand that school.

One of the high schools that I really liked and was a good fit for my child was Frank McCourt. Fortunately, it was not the first choice. Already four high schools which are still adding classes have to negotiate for use of common space. I am sure that this has become even more complicated by the retrofitting and renovations done by Moscowitz to accommodate elementary age children.

The DOE and our pols should focus on supporting our existing schools rather than enriching Eva Moscowitz and her husband.
Oct. 20, 2011, 11:43 am
Jim D. from Carroll Gardens says:
A rather significant detail omitted from the article is the small problem that Success Academy NEVER actually APPLIED to open a charter school in District 15. Rather, they applied for charters in D13 & D14 ostensibly targeted to populations they serve in Harlem.

Only AFTER receiving approvals was their any public disclosure by the DOE that it intended to co-locate one of the Charter Schools in Brownstone Brooklyn.

Last spring, three entities applied for Charters in D15 and underwent a public screening process including a hearing before the CEC of D15. Two of those applicants engendered no significant opposition and were approved. One had little support and enormous opposition and was persuaded to "withdraw" its application.

That's how democracy is supposed to work. Indeed, if Eva could document a market for what she proposes, why didn't she forthrightly come to D15?

Instead, with the active connivance of the poobahs at DOE, she engaged in a reprehensible "bait and switch"which circumvented the parents in D15. Furthermore, by claiming to be serving a school population entirely different from one that Success Academy now looks to be recruiting, it deliberately misled the SUNY Trustees and the Board of Regents.

Whatever this may be, "putting children first is assuredly NOT what's on the DOE's mind
Oct. 20, 2011, 2:04 pm
pete from Windsor Terrace says:

Eva Moskowitz is part of
that campaign to get rid
of the Teacher's Union.
Nothing more;nothing less.
She is a bully, and part of
the effort to blur the line
between public and private
education,so can people run privateschools at the public's expense.
Oct. 21, 2011, 10:09 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Why is that whenever a person who is a head of a charter or any other private school wants space, they can get hands down, but when a those part of a public school needs more space by either expanding where they are or relocating, they get snubbed numerous times or have to fight for it?
Oct. 22, 2011, 5:20 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Dont bother attacking me personally b/c I know the answer to my own question. It is because of the streetsblogger zealouts who are in cahoots with the undebunkable charter school trustees who get tax breaks from their friends in the congress.
Oct. 25, 2011, 11:49 am
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
"To dispel such rumors and fears, Moskowitz’s company hired a high-profile PR firm to bang out a press release claiming that 1,500 Cobble Hill residents signed a petition to support a charter school in the neighborhood. Her company also spent $16,000 on a high-powered lobbyist."

Wouldn't be cool if the PTA at 447 had 16 Grand to hire a lobbyist.
Oct. 29, 2011, 3:20 am

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