New charter schools on the horizon in Dist. 18

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School officials visited Canarsie last week to provide information about the possible opening of two new charter schools – but some important details were omitted; the proposed locations of the schools.

The addresses are vital to parents as they determine whether or not to support the schools, Geraldine Carrington, a member of District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC), said at the group’s meeting last week.

“The first thing parents want to know is the accessibility of the school,” she said. “They need to know where it’s going to be located.”

“Parents have a right to know,” she continued. But, “it’s a big secret.”

District 18 CEC member Clerry Phillip said it’s the “secrecy with which this whole thing is handled” that gives charter schools a “negative” reputation.

“Do try to make your moves transparent so that negatives will not arise,” he told charter school representatives.

District 18 Community Superintendent Beverly Wilkins said it’s the policy of the city Department of Education (DOE) not to divulge possible locations of charter schools during these preliminary meetings with the public.

“These plans are tentative and we are still in the planning stage,” she explained.

Of the two proposed charter schools detailed at the CEC meeting, one has a location in mind.

If approved by the DOE and state Board of Regents, New Hope Academy Charter School would spend its first two years at Nazareth Regional High School, a Catholic school at 475 East 57th Street.

“We’re going to rent space from Nazareth High School,” Rev. Orlando Findlayter, one of the school’s planners, told this paper.

After two years, the charter school would find a permanent home most likely in a private facility and not a public school building.

“All the public schools in this district are overcrowded so we would not go into a public school,” said Findlayter, who is a reverend at New Hope Christian Fellowship on Church Avenue.

The other charter school presented at the CEC meeting does not have possible locations, explained Morty Ballen, who would serve as executive director of Explore Charter School II.

“We’re anticipating that it could be anything,” he said.

If the school is approved to open in September 2009, it could be housed in an existing public school building or a private space, Ballen said.

If the DOE eventually plans to house a charter school in an existing public school, a public hearing would be held to allow community members and parents to voice their support or opposition.

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