2010-03-12 / Top Stories

Oppose Goldie Maple School Sharing

By Miriam Rosenberg

Following the hearing Challenge Prep board members Rosalind O’Neal and Ben Waxman listen as a parent expresses her concerns about the charter school moving into the Goldie Maple building. Following the hearing Challenge Prep board members Rosalind O’Neal and Ben Waxman listen as a parent expresses her concerns about the charter school moving into the Goldie Maple building. Parents of students who attend Goldie Maple Academy came out last week to oppose the Department of Education’s plan to place a new charter school in the MS 333 building when the new school year begins in the fall.

The joint hearing, held at the school located on Beach 56 Street, gave parents, residents and supporters of the new Challenge Preparatory Charter School a chance to present a DOE panel with their views before a vote on the issue is taken later this month.

Sitting on the three-person panel to hear testimony were Michelle Lloyd-Bey, the superintendent of School District 27, Coralanne Hunte of the Community Education Council for District 27 and parent representative Tonyia DosSantos.

Claudia John, a parent of a Goldie Maple student, believes that another school in the Goldie Maple building would inhibit MS 333 from continuing to grow. Claudia John, a parent of a Goldie Maple student, believes that another school in the Goldie Maple building would inhibit MS 333 from continuing to grow. “When MS 333 is at scale next year – K-8 school – there will be extra rooms to house the prep school,” said Bey at the March 4 hearing. “This year the building houses 48 full sized classrooms and 17 half size rooms. Based on that and the enrollment projection for MS 333 for the 2010- 2011 school year, there is excess proficient space as determined by the citywide instruction footprint.”

Parents of students who currently attend MS 333 and supporters of the Challenge Preparatory Charter School had very different views at the hearing on March 4.

Parents of current students spoke against the proposal.

Claudia John was among many who are concerned about overcrowding. She felt that another school in the Goldie Maple building would inhibit MS 333 from continuing to grow.

“The data this proposal is based on is from two years ago. Since then we have grown 200 students,” said John. “We’re projected to grow another 500. It’s not a workable project.”

John also asked about a required walk-through to verify the data. She said, “the footprint would be noted so that we can have a definite figure about how this is going to impact our children.”

Mauricio Bethea responded to Challenge Prep board members who said the charter school would bring with it leadership and quality education.

“There is leadership here [principal Angela Logan]. There is already quality education here,” said Bethea to loud applause.

Another mother said she had no plans to send her child to a Far Rockaway school until the Goldie Maple Academy came along.

“What she’s [Principal Logan] done with this school is amazing. I have friends that will bring their kids to this school now versus bringing them to a school they are going to have to pay for. I understand that there has to be somewhere to go, but unfortunately it’s just not here,” she said as other parents applauded.

She added, “The best way for a child to learn is when every one is on the same accord not different pages. I’m so sorry. But you’re going to have to find something else. There’s a school down the street. There’s a school up the block. Go there. Just not here. Not here.”

Speaking in favor of the proposal were three members of the charter school’s board of directors.

“Challenge Prep is not designed to undermine Goldie Maple Academy or the public school system; it is designed to bring hope and educational outcomes we can be proud of across the district,” said Rosalind O’Neal.

“In an increasingly competitive world it is imperative that we equip the students of District 27 to compete. If we fail we forfeit our chances of future success.”

David Hooks added, “We at Challenge Prep believe we can work and live together and make this a fruitful opportunity for all youngsters.

“There’s so many things that we can come to the table [with] as adults and work through and make this a livable, academic experience for all the youngsters that will walk through the doors of this building to be educated.”

The Reverend Les Mullings, the lead petitioner for the school, said, “We will assure you that as a result of Challenge Prep being in this building that Goldie Maple students, every child that is part of this building will be better off because we were here. Challenge Prep exists to bring quality education to the entire Far Rockaway … to the entire District 27. This is something good. It is something strong. It is something that is needed.”

The Panel for Educational Policy will decide the issue at its March 23 meeting at The Michael J. Petrides School in Staten Island. Comments can be sent to D27Proposals@ Schools.nyc.gov or by calling 718- 935-4198.

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