2011-03-24 / Top Stories

P.S. 114 Parents, Teachers Say, “Stay Out” To Charter School

By Dara Mormile

DOE and charter school officials face parents and teachers at controversial P.S. 114 meeting. 
Dara Mormile DOE and charter school officials face parents and teachers at controversial P.S. 114 meeting. Dara Mormile When the Department of Education (DOE) decided not to phase out P.S. 114 after a four month battle, parents and teachers celebrated their hard work for fighting to keep the school open. What they didn’t know was that, although the Ryder Elementary School was being given a second chance, the DOE already promised space in the building to a charter school.

Tuesday evening, parents and teachers met with representatives from the Explore Excel Charter School, which will be located in P.S. 114 this September.

Some teachers said the DOE fooled them into thinking the school would be given more resources and chances to succeed.

“How can students succeed when they have to share a building with another school whose students will utilize half their resources?” asked librarian Andrea Carte.

According to a DOE press release, the Explore Charter School was already scheduled to move into P.S. 114 before the decision to save the school was made. The agency stated that a Building Utilization Plan discovered there was room for a charter school in the 104-year-old Remsen Avenue building. The DOE also claimed that P.S. 114 is presently underutilized with a low enrollment.

In the fall, P.S. 114 students will have to share the library, gym and computer resource time with new students of the Excel Charter School, which will serve kindergarten through fifth grade. The charter school will accept students based on a lottery, with children in District 18 given priority, and for those who are performing poorly in their present school.

According to the charter school CEO, Morty Ballen, a fair schedule will be coordinated so both schools will have equal time using the building’s resources.

“We currently are co-located in two other schools in Brooklyn — one in East Flatbush and another in Crown Heights,” he said. “We have an outstanding relationship with the principals and we’re not here to take away anything from your students or staff.”

Excel Charter School will offer after school programs, extended days and two teachers per class.

P.S. 114 UFT representative Maria Shalbinsky was upset when she heard this, arguing, “Two teachers per class? Why aren’t we being given this? Bloomberg is planning teacher lay-offs, so how is this going to be fair to our school?

“This is how the DOE helps students – by downsizing and not allowing the children to grow. Underenrollment is the DOE’s fault. We lost our gifted programs and now children are going to P.S. 115 and P.S. 66. We think something is being done privately,” she added.

While P.S. 521, the school that was originally set to replace P.S. 114, is not going to be established, teachers are still upset that it appears the DOE will slowly phase out the school anyway. Teachers said P.S. 114 will be prevented from enrolling more children as years progress, but the charter school and DOE representatives claim there are no plans to “bulldoze” the public school.

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