2010-03-26 / School News

New School Gets OK To Make Goldie Maple Home

By Miriam Rosenberg

Parents and students rallied outside Goldie Maple Academy last week to protest the proposal to have a new charter school share their building. Parents and students rallied outside Goldie Maple Academy last week to protest the proposal to have a new charter school share their building. Despite intense opposition from parents whose children attend Goldie Maple Academy, students there will now be sharing their building with a new charter school that is set to open in August.

The Panel for Educational Policy voted to allow the Challenge Preparatory Charter School to take up residence, for the next two years, at Goldie Maple Academy/MS 333, located on Beach 57 Street. According to Claudia John, the president of the Parents Association, a busload of parents traveled to the Michael J. Petrides School in Staten Island to attend the vote and make one last push to have their voices heard.

“A number of Goldie Maple Academy parents presented arguments to the Panel against the proposal regarding space and utilization of the building,” said John in an email on Wednesday.

“We are outraged by the decision. We feel like the Panel has failed the parents and the community, has failed in presenting a process that works for our schools to excel and most of all has failed our children.”

John added, “We will continue to explore our options where this ruling is concerned in order to ensure the stability of our children’s academic future.”

While Reverend Les Mullings, who was the lead applicant for Challenge Charter, said he sympathized with the parents of Goldie Maple and “applauded them for their involvement in their children’s future,” he added that Challenge Prep’s board was happy the vote went their way.

On Monday, Mullings also strongly disputed rumors that the board of Challenge Academy was offered another location prior to Goldie Maple Academy.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We wanted another place besides Goldie Maple. We wanted to go into another space. We had absolutely nothing to do about where we were placed. I don’t know where that story came from.”

Last Thursday, parents and students gathered outside Goldie Maple Academy at a rally to get the word out about the then-proposed sharing of MS 333. To the chants of “One School, One Building” and “No Overcrowding” adults and children spoke about the impact bringing another school into their building would have.

Goldie Maple fourth grader Ashley Dos.Santos, 9, recalled being a student in the Peninsula Preparatory Academy when, just a few years ago, it was in a shared space in MS 53. She attended the charter school from 2005 to 2008.

“We had to have gym in the cafeteria. We ate lunch at 10 something,” said Ashley, who is in her second year at MS 333. “It was no fun.”

Tonyia Dos.Santos, Ashley’s mother, sat on the PPA board for two years. She elaborated on the problems the charter school faced.

She said PPA children “went for months and never used the gym,” and ate lunch at 10:50 a.m. even though PPA “knew this was not condoned and was against DOE [Department of Education] policy.” Instead of the agreed two years, PPA stayed in MS 53 for four years. Dos.Santos, believes that Challenge Prep’s board is putting business ahead of the children’s interests by opening without their own building.

“Having been there and done that I cannot see how there could not be any negative impacts,” said Dos.Santos.

Challenge Prep is scheduled to open in August and is currently taking applications for the fall semester.

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