2010-02-19 / Top Stories

Parents Object To New Charter School At Goldie Maple

By Miriam Rosenberg

Parents whose children attend the Goldie Maple Academy (MS 333) on Beach 56 Street in Arverne have begun a campaign against a proposal to place a new charter school that was recently approved by the State Board of Regents, in their building, The Wave has learned.

Khadijah Rasheed, who does outreach for the Parents Association at Goldie Maple, said that parents were against the new Challenge Preparatory Charter School taking up residence there because “it will have a negative impact. We don’t want to become overcrowded. It’s [Goldie Maple] a good school.”

According to the draft of a letter the Parents Association was preparing to send to the Department of Education, sharing space with another school would hurt the current students at MS 333.

“Each child gets to utilize the gymnasium twice a week or more and the lunchroom is not overcrowded as our school leader had the foresight to create three lunch periods to accommodate our children … We parents do believe that the smaller class size structures contribute to our children’s success in each subject area. To begin a shared space agreement with Challenge Academy at this time will impact that structure.”

The new school will begin with 120 students in grades kindergarten through first grade in its first year of operation.

The letter from the Goldie Maple Parents Association addresses this. “A school serving small children K through 2 will need space lower to the ground floor for the children’s sake. To allow a new 120 children in lower grades into the building would cause us to uproot our smallest students pre- K through 1st grade, who currently utilize the second floor.”

As new students are brought into Challenge Preparatory, Goldie Maple is also due to expand, with an eighth grade class beginning next year.

“We’re a growing school,” said Rasheed. “In September we’re getting more kids. It’s not fair to bring in another school in the midst of what we’ve got.”

Records show that a hearing to gather options on the then-proposed charter school was held in District 27 on July 30, 2009. At that time five comments, all in support of the school, were made. It should be noted that this was before the location for Challenge Prep was proposed.

The Challenge Preparatory Charter School was granted its charter earlier this month by New York State Board of Regents. By its fifth year of operation it will have a student body of 360 students in grades K – 5. It will eventually be a K – 8 school. It will have a longer day – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and an academic year of 190 days.

According to the DOE website, Goldie Maple, which is located on Beach 56 Street in Arverne, currently serves grades pre-K through 7 and has an enrollment of 531 students.

The lead applicant on the charter request was the Reverend Dr. Leslie Mullings, pastor for the Church of the Nazarene in Far Rockaway and the executive director of the Center for Community Development of Far Rockaway. The Center for Community Development is listed as the Institutional/ Management partner for the new school.

There will be an open meeting of Community District Education Council 27, at which a presentation about the Challenge Preparatory Charter School will take place.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. at MS 53, located at 10-45 Nameoke Street in Far Rockaway. All those who wish to speak at the meeting can call the District 27 office at 718-642-5808.

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