2004-03-12 / Front Page

Charter School Slated For MS 53

Charter School Slated For MS 53

A Far Rockaway middle school will be the site for the peninsula’s first char ter school, which will open in September.

The $2 million Peninsula Preparatory Academy will open at Middle School 53 on Nameoke Street with 150 students in Kindergarten through the second grade, with one successive grade being added each school year until the charter school is comprised of Kindergarten to grade eight.

The school is being funded through the education management company, Victory Schools, which is run by State Senator Malcolm Smith.

Smith made the announcement on Thursday, standing in front of Far Rockaway High School after a tour of a number of Rockaway middle and high schools.

"I’m going to actually put together my own school to make sure that kids out here are going to get a good education," Smith told the two reporters who were at the news conference. "We’ve got to do something for these kids because many of Rockaway’s schools are an embarrassment."

Smith said that the charter school will focus on banking and business development. It will operate with the assistance of Diana Taylor, the Superintendent of the State Banking Commission and Curtis Archer, the Executive Director of the Rockaway Development and Revital ization Corporation, who will develop programs for the new school.

Students from all over the peninsula can apply to the school and acceptance will be by lottery. Smith said, however, that parents of those students would be required to spend five hours a week volunteering at the school.

Smith said that the school would include a half-million dollar science lab funded by the City Council, which would be used by the wider school as well as by the charter school.

Some parents were not happy about the plan, however. Marian-Allen-Hampton, who has children at both PS 183 and 180 and whose older children graduated from MS 53, told Nicole Bode of the Daily News, "We’re talking about putting four and five year olds in with 13 and 14 year olds. That’s crazy."

Later in the day, Smith spoke with both parents and faculty of MS 53, outlining the program.

"It’s a done deal," one MS 53 teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Wave. "Many of the parents don’t like it, but it’s going to happen anyway."

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