The fight over the city Department of Education’s plan to place Success Academy Cobble Hill, a Kindergarten to 4th Grade, at 284 Baltic, next to Cobble Hill Cinemas, will get uglier over the coming weeks. Tonight there is dueling press conferences and hearings at the school starting at 5 p.m., as parents who support the new charter school speak their minds, while opponents and supporters of a plan to put a new kindergarten and preschool their also say their piece.
Meeting takes place Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the School for Global Studies/School for International Studies at 284 Baltic, on Court between Baltic and Butler, at 5 p.m.
Check out this segment on New York 1 about an alternate proposal to put a public pre-K and kindergarten at the school.
I wanted to find out more about the charter school, which operates nine schools throughout the city, including five in Harlem and two in the Bronx. I visited the Success Academy on the Upper West Side last week. Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll have an in-depth piece done based on interviews and some fact-finding research. But in the meantime…
I learned a lot during my visit. I was most impressed with the diversity. It was easily the most diverse elementary I have seen, and the charter school says it will be similar in Cobble Hill. Here’s a run-down:
* Success Academy Upper West is 49 percent black and Latino, 35 percent white and Asian and 16 percent multi-racial.
* It is 40 percent under-priviledged: 36 percent of the kids qualify for free lunch, while 4 percent qualify for reduced lunch.
* The school year started this year two weeks before the public school year. The day begins at 7:30 a.m., and ends at 4 p.m. for kindergartners, and 4:30 p.m. for 1st grade and up.
* Kindergartners get two recesses per day, and at least one if not several “choice” times, where they can choose what to play or do. Kindergartners also take science every day, and during the tour I attended, the kids were practicing robotics, in which they were programming a small robotic ladybug to move around a colorful chart on the floor. Though I watched for 15 minutes, I had absolutely no idea what the kids were doing, but the entire class was helping the child who was programming the robot.
* Like other similar charters, Success Academy accepts children via random lottery, district-wide. Success Cobble Hill will give a preference to kids in District 15 for its lottery. So children who live in the Red Hook houses and Gowanus projects will have the same chance of getting accepted as kids in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.
* At Success Upper West, acceptance was competitive: 700 kids from in district and another 1,400 out of district applied for the 185 seats. At the end of the day 98 percent of the students are from District 3, where the school sits.
* Success Cobble Hill has been approved and will open in September 2012, Moskowitz says. The location, proposed by the DOE, is not yet finalized or approved, and must be voted upon by the Panel for Education Policy in December.