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Cavallaro parents rip co-location plan

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A plan by the city to move a kindergarten- through fourth-grade charter school into an excelling Bath Beach middle school will make it impossible for any of the students to learn, claimed angry parents on Monday night.

Moms and dads of students at Joseph B. Cavallaro Intermediate School packed into its auditorium to protest the so-called “co-location” — a increasingly pervasive policy of the Department of Education to share space within the building by two separate institutions — demanding that the city halt a proposal they say will hurt their kids.

“The Department of Education is yet again trying to ruin another one of our schools,” said Angela Gueren a graduate of the middle school, who currently has a 12-year-old daughter attending it. “Our children will lose out on precious resources.”

Raucous chants of “no co-location,” rang throughout the auditorium at a meeting organized by the local Community Education Council to hear what parents think about the plan to shoehorn the Coney Island Prep Charter School into the building.

Parents protesting the co-location held up black and white signs reading, “Cavallaro is the heart of our community, don’t break out hearts,” Among the concerns raised at the meeting included overcrowding of the building, which, according to the president of the education council, was already at 80 percent of its capacity, and sharing of resources such the divvying up time for the use of computer labs, dance studios, the cafeteria, and the gym.

“What everybody said here about the overcrowding and lack of resources is absolutely true,” said Virginia Cheung, a health and physical education teacher at Cavallaro. “It is clear that this community is very divided over this issue, so why doesn’t the charter school use other available space?”

Current students and teachers claimed the new school would be a burden on the students already there, and would destroy the sense of community the school has continually nurtured.

“Everyone knows each others names at this school, and we already have our own identity and space, and we deserve it,” said sixth-grader Genesis Ford. “The bottom line is we should not have another school bothering us like this. This is torture.”

If the city has its way, the charter school’s kindergarteners and first graders move in next September, an addition of just over 100 students. It will subsequently continue to add a grade each year until it tops out with 275 to 350 kindergarten through fourth grade students in 2017.

Heather Fioricka, president of the local community education council, said the council vehemently opposed the charter school co-location — one of several being pushed across the borough by the outgoing administration of Mayor Bloomberg, an enthusiastic advocate of privately run charter schools funded by taxpayers. Fioricka argued that the neighborhood didn’t need any more elementary schools.

“We don’t need so many K-4 schools,” she said. “It’s not like they are bursting at the seams in any way. It is clear that this is a way for the Bloomberg administration to push its agenda before the new mayor takes over.”

Fioricka said the co-location is just a way for the charter school to avoid paying rent on a new building.

Supporters of the charter school showed up as well, decked out in matching red jerseys, arguing that Coney Island Prep was particularly good for special-needs students.

“I’m so glad I enrolled my son at this school,” said Joe Herrera, whose son Joey entered the charter school’s middle school division with learning disabilities. “Now my son has been declassified and is doing exceedingly well in the 9th grade. I really took a shot with this school and I couldn’t be happier. We are just parents like everyone else who want the best possible education for our children.”

The fate of the Cavallaro co-location plan will be decided at a meeting of the Panel for Education Policy on Oct. 30, where parents will again have a chance to voice their concerns.

Panel for Education Policy meeting at the Prospect Heights International High School [883 Classon Ave. between President and Union streets, (718) 230–6333] Oct. 30, 5:30 pm.

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Reader Feedback

Jimmy from Coney Island says:
I have a few things to say not in the article.

First of all, the families of Coney Island Prep were extremely rude and gave safety officers a hard time in the hallway before the meeting to be first in line for public speaking time. They did not want to remove themselves from the hallway as students were dismissing. It was a safety issue for the students.

Second, once the panel, elected officials, school board, spoke, Coney Island Prep supporters spoke and the audience were respectful and listened. As they gave praise of their school, we heard one father speak of their child learning respect in their school, perhaps they need a parent workshop for the same-All the Coney Island Prep parents who attended, waited until their Prep Parents spoke, got up and left. How rude is that? Even after they said they would work with us and we are all together in District 21. Blah Blah Blah. Yeah Right.

Third, If Mr. Herrara (a representative of Families for Excellent Schools-A Pro-Charter Organization) who spoke at the meeting, thinks his Charter and other charter schools are so great, why did he choose to send his 9th grader to Brooklyn Tech? Coney Island Prep Charter now has a 9th Grade at another location and there are many other HS Charters, but he chose to put his son in a "traditional public school"
Whats with that?
Oct. 24, 2013, 2:57 pm
Celia from Bath Beach says:
yeah he did said that at the meeting. He took him out of the charter school and put him in a public school ? ha ha ha I guess Coney Island Prep is not so elite after all , ay Joe?
Oct. 24, 2013, 3:09 pm
Joe Herrera from Bensonhurst says:
My son Joey is attending the 9th grade in Coney island Prep, My son Kadin is in the 8th grade at CIP, and my daughter is in the 9th grade at Brooklyn tech High School. I do not believe that any brand of school is better than the other. I do believe as responsible parents, it is our duty to seek out the best education for our children. CIP and Brooklyn tech are offering my children an exceptional education and they are both schools of choice.(I chose them, the district did not) I attended my first CEC D21 Joint Public Hearing in 2011 to support my son's school. After seeing parents and children locked out of I.S. 303 in the cold, and the way we were treated because of the school we chose for our children, I was appalled. It was at that time, I became a vocal advocate for parents, children, and school choice and spent 2 years supporting parents at various hearings. This past year I began working as an organizer for Families for Excellent Schools, a non-profit organization that work on education reform issues.
Oct. 27, 2013, 10:11 pm
Joe Herrera from Bensonhurst says:
Sorry I didn't mean to post a whole bio, I just figured if you were going to talk about me, at least you should have the facts right.

I also have other facts, like the percentage of children with IEP's in CIP (second highest in the district). The latest test scores from CIP (outperforming every school in D21). Maybe this CNN article talking about CIP ranking in the top 1% of middle schools in the city:

My apologizes for leaving before Cavallaro's parents spoke. I do think the elected officials, CEC members, school leadership team, and multiple students did a good job of articulating why CIP should not be in Cavallaro. Unfortunately the impact of a co-location means the some resources would have to be shared, the impact of no co-location means that a school will not exist. Co-location is the in the best interests of ALL students and parents in D21.
Oct. 27, 2013, 10:36 pm

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