School’s out for summer — but when September rolls around, one Williamsburg school will be in a different place.
The Williamsburg Charter School is trading the green pastures of McCarren Park for the gritty truck routes of the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone.
The six-year-old charter high school’s move from the MS 126 building on Leonard Street to an empty warehouse on Varet Street was precipitated by a need for expansion and comes after two years of planning.
Last week, Community Board 1’s Land Use Committee approved the school’s request to replace its parking area with a buildout of the ground-floor space, paving the way for work to continue on site and for staff to move into the school in less than two months.
Teachers embraced the move, and parents said the new school is nicer. But high school seniors were less enthusiastic, saying that they had grown accustomed to the Leonard Street location.
“After a while, when you are in a certain place, you get attached to it,” said D’Elia Tirado, a rising senior.
The school’s expansion is part of a larger trend of charter schools sprouting throughout Brooklyn, since the state created autonomous charter schools in 1998. Currently, there are 125 charter schools citywide, including 27 new schools that opened this year.
Charter schools are exempt from regulations that govern public schools, such as curriculum development and staff hiring, but must meet state standards and Regents requirements in order to receive tax dollars. They do not receive funding for facility costs, which has forced many start-up schools to share space in existing public school buildings, such as the one that Williamsburg Charter shared with MS 126.
When the school year begins in September, students will have a renovated school building near Bushwick Avenue, and neighbors that include Wonton Foods, the country’s largest fortune cookie manufacturer, and the Boars Head’s East Coast distribution plant.
There are few parks to play in nearby, but Gelsan Cabrera won’t miss one thing from the high school’s old location: the middle school students.
“We don’t like them,” said Cabrera, as he dodged several miniature fireworks thrown by younger students.