Parents & students protest proposed charter school
by Andrew Pavia
Dec 12, 2012 | 4912 views | 0 0 comments | 120 120 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Parents and students are fighting a Department of Education (DOE) proposal to move a charter school into the third floor of the Susan S. McKinney Secondary School for the Arts in Clinton Hills.

Parents and students say the move would take away critical space devoted to arts and music classes.

With charter schools making their way into Brooklyn, the Department of Education is looking to take a high school’s third floor away to make room for kindergarteners. The Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts in Clinton Hill focuses on art and music which will receive set backs because the third floor is the location of the rooms utilized to facilitate these subjects.

The DOE is proposing moving Success Academy into the school in September of 2013-2014.

Parents and administrators met with DOE officials on Friday, Dec. 7, in the school's auditorium. To illustrate the emphasis on the arts and how essential it is to McKinney’s programming, one student performed an opera song that resulted in a standing ovation.

Explaining the proposal, Brooklyn Superintendent of Schools Karen Watts said that Success Academy will start off with one class and add a grade level until the school includes kindergarten through fifth grade. By the 2017-2018 school year, success Academy will have between 434 and 556 students.

She said that the school could serve 1,035 students, but during the 2012-2013 school year is only serving 470 students. If the charter school is moved into the building, the two schools will serve between 864 and 1,060 students by the 2017-2018 school year.

“This use of building utilization rate is approximately 45 percent,” Watts said, “which demonstrates that the facility is underutilized.”

Celia Green, a parent of a McKinney student, criticized the DOE over the proposal, as well as how the process is being handled.

“DOE’s plan will dismantle the very essence of programing that has been proven to work,” she said, noting that the classes focusing on theater, music, dance and other arts programs take place on the third floor.

Green said that the DOE should focus less on the hard numbers and more on what the students actually need.

“The student have been lumped into an equation of numbers, not student needs and not student opportunities,” she said.

But Watts disagreed with Green's prediction.

“The DOE does not anticipate that this proposal will have any negative impact on programing,” she said.

Dezeray Lynch, a 6th grade student at McKinney, said the school is already too crowded.

“Students already have trouble getting to class,” she said. “It’s going to look like Yankee Stadium. Success Academy, with all due respect, McKinney doesn’t want you here.”

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