SE Queens elected speak on charters |

Loss of incoming grants designed to draw more students and space for extracurricular activities were some of the reasons behind last week’s withdrawal of proposals for the co-location of elementary schools within the Catherine & Count Basie Middle School in Rochdale and the Springfield Gardens Educational Complex.

Eva Moskowitz, the founder and CEO of Success Academy Schools, told the Queens Chronicle that both claims were bogus and were simply anti-charter rhetoric to prevent school-choice for parents seeking a better education for their children.

“We have no impact on the footprint of the co-located schools,” Moskowitz said regarding claims that a co-location would take away space for supplementary activities at The Springfield Gardens Educational Complex, located at 143-10 Springfield Blvd. empirical reality over 17 years at 49 schools.”

As far as co-locating elementary school students with high schoolers, Moskowitz said that Success Academy has six such co-locations, so combining schools with youngsters and teens is not a disaster waiting to happen.

“We are familiar on how to manage that,” said Moskowitz. “This is not a real argument.”

Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-South Ozone Park), however, feels as though the concerns of students losing space for activities and grant funding, which could help the schools grow their campus population were no small matters.

“As a parent, I don’t think I would want my kids in the same space as teenagers and I think that is a legitimate concern,” she said.

Brooks-Powers also doesn’t want the students to possibly lose out on extracurricular activities. At the SGEC, she was a part of a walking tour of the campus and saw the spaces for the nursing and the veterinary programs. She also believes the supplementary education will also help to set up the students for careers after high school.

Brooks-Powers told the Chronicle that she has been providing capital funding to the schools to help them improve.

Councilwoman Nantasha Williams (D-Queens Village) is not against charter schools, but does not believe they should be implemented to the detriment of district schools.

“I’ve met people that absolutely don’t like the system and people who can’t talk enough about them,” Williams said. “For me it’s not charter schools coming into the community, but how are they coming to the community. Are there other places that could be used that is not co-located within a public school?”

Moskowitz said that elementary school parents should not have to wait for a new building to be erected for space for a new school, especially in Southeast Queens where schools are under capacity.

Both Williams and Brooks-Powers say there are charter schools in their areas that utilize their own buildings without encroaching in district buildings.

Moskowitz told the Chronicle that the charters school program had long signup lists for the SGEC, and the Catherine and Count Basie Middle School, located at 133-25 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.

Williams said that district schools are not incapable of improving and attracting students, but the bureaucracy at the city’s Department of Education is to blame.

“There are many constraints that charter schools don’t have,” Williams said. “Charter schools are able to use innovative models of teaching and experiment in the best way to teach students… this is why parents love charter schools, but not all students do better in that type of environment.

“Maybe some students need something else. Breaking the silos of the DOE and breaking down its bureaucracy so principals can really serve and provide the needs of their schools is something that is really important. They just need the resources to do that.”

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